The Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas, is not your average historic house museum. It is considerably more surreal than that. And much more memorable. Built by Civil War veteran S. P. Dinsmoor, the house itself was completed in 1907; the sculptures were a work-in-progress until 1928. Dinsmoor’s “Cabin Home” was built of native limestone which was cut to resemble hewn logs. They were laid in the same manner as the logs of a log cabin – complete with notched corners. He made great use of wire-reinforced concrete in the surrounding sculptural works, secondary structures, as well as on the house itself.
The fantastic concrete sculptures which surround the house appear to have served two purposes; they were an expression of Dinsmoor’s various philosophies and beliefs but were also conceived as a kind of tourist attraction which would provide income in retirement. People are still enjoying his work after more than a century; the house and grounds are a refreshing break from an increasingly mundane world. The Garden of Eden has benefitted from an extensive and professional restoration by the Kohler Foundation in 2011 in recognition of the site’s profound cultural, historic and artistic value. This post features the exterior; a follow-up post will show the interior of the house. The town of Lucas is, appropriately, recognized as the Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas and home to the Grassroots Art Center, also well worth a visit!