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Garden of Eden - Nicole Kelley

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					Garden of Eden



Cement sculpture reflects unusual views of its creator

By Nicole Kelley

        Samuel Perry Dinsmoor believed that “it’s waste that makes people poor” -

-- the waste of time, resources, talents, and, most of all, opinions.

        Dinsmoor spent his life making sure he always spoke his mind--and he did

it in a way that was so unique people couldn’t help but notice.

        Dinsmoor created the Garden of Eden in Lucas, in the north central part of

Kansas, about an hour and one-half by car from Salina.

        It showcases more than 150 sculptures built of cement. Each one of

Dinsmoor’s sculptures is either humans or animals that represent one of his

opinions. His inspiration came from The Bible and personal observations about

the world as he saw them. He wanted to both amaze and enlighten visitors as

they toured the unusual world he created right in his own backyard.

        One of the more interesting parts of his work was his mausoleum. This

40-foot stone building houses his remains and the remains of his first wife.

Dinsmoor wanted to be able to thank every one of his visitors with a friendly

smile even in his afterlife. He handmade a cement coffin with only a glass plate

covering his face allowing people to still view his body today.

        “I think the guy had a great sense of humor. Anyone who would want to

be seen at his worst would have to,” Cathy Randolph of San Antonio, Texas,

said.
       At age 64, Dinsmoor started a 22-year process in which he turned his

backyard and home into one of the oddest displays of folk art in Kansas. He

used 113 tons or 2,273 sacks of cement.

       He always intended for his home to become a tourist attraction. In 1907

he began conducting tours and he continued these until a few years before his

death in 1932. Now it is owned by a group from Lucas formed to preserve it.

The Garden of Eden has more than 10,000 visitors annually.

       “It’s something unique you don’t get to see most places,” a tour guide

said. “Everyone finds something else they like about it. I’m still always finding

something new as I wander around the yard.”

       Each tour starts with an introduction about the life of Dinsmoor; followed

by a video with details about each piece of art. Visitors are then allowed to

explore the house, which includes furniture such as a desk and game table

Dinsmoor made.

       The tour finishes with a walk around the outside and into the garden.

       Tall cement trees with connecting limbs cover the front and side yards.

These hold statues that tell the story of Adam and Eve as written in The Bible

with the addition of Dinsmoor’s own interpretations. Other sculptures tackle

controversial topics which Dinsmoor saw as important.

       His sculpture entitled “Labor Crucified” represents his anger toward the

leaders he saw who used their authority to take advantage of the lower-class,

hard-working people. He thought that leaders such as the lawyer, banker, doctor
and preacher, all depicted in the sculpture, are the people “who eat cake by the

sweat of the other fellow’s face.”

       Charles Goldman, New York, N.Y., has been an admirer of folk art for

many years and had been waiting to visit the famous garden that has been

popular among folk art fans for several years.

       “The amazing work that preservationists are doing to preserve this kind of

folk art is truly amazing,” Goldman said.

       Dinsmoor always made sure to remind his visitors that “if the Garden of

Eden is not right, Moses is to blame. He wrote it up and I built it.”



Where it is: The Garden of Eden is at 305 E. Second St., Lucas. Lucas is 16

miles north of I-70 on K-232.

Hours: Tours are available daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. seven days a week

from May through October; from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday from

November through February; and from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. seven days a week

during March and April.

Admission: $6 for adults and $1 for children between 6 and 12 years old;

children less than 6 years old are free.

Telephone: 785-525-6395

Website: www.garden-of-eden-lucas-kansas.com

This article was written as part of a special project for the William Allen White

School of Journalism and the Kansas Newspaper Foundation.
Cutline: Adam and Eve are portrayed in cement sculpture pieces in the Garden

of Eden in Lucas, Kan. (Copyright photo by John Blumb, courtesy of the Garden

of Eden, Inc.)

				
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posted:5/26/2010
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