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S.P. Dinsmoor’s The Garden of Eden

S.P. Dinsmoor’s The Garden of Eden
Lucas, Kansas, United States

Samuel Perry Dinsmoor (1843 -1932) was a Civil War veteran, a schoolteacher, a farmer, a Freemason, and an outspoken Populist. After retirement in Lucas, Kansas, he constructed a “log” cabin out of limestone. Over the next 20 years, using 113 tons of concrete, he surrounded his house with a web of 40-foot tall tree sculptures and over 150 statues. Dinsmoor drew visitors to the site with novel electric light bulbs which made an “All-Seeing Eye” wink at passing trains.  

The installation reveals the world according to Dinsmoor, starting with the Garden of Eden and ending with the political issues of his day. On one side of the house stands a murderous tableau of Cain and Abel; on the other side, a woman and a black man demand voting rights from the Goddess of Liberty. Dinsmoor also blended Biblical imagery with his Populist views: In his final sculpture, Labor is crucified by a lawyer, a doctor, a priest, and a capitalist. 

Upon his death, Dinsmoor’s body was interred, as requested, alongside his first wife in a glass coffin on site, for visitor viewing. Over time The Garden of Eden fell into disarray, but it underwent intensive restoration by the Kohler Foundation in 2012. The art environment is now open for public tours year-round. 

Isaiah visited The Garden of Eden in 2015 while he was creating a mural in Topeka. The Garden of Eden and Dinsmoor’s name can be found in the mosaics on the ceiling of the Middle Gallery.

Resources:
Biography and photos
Virtual tour with quotes from self-published book Pictorial History of the Cabin Home in Garden of Eden, Lucas Kansas by S.P. Dinsmoor

Button & Top Photo Credit: gardenofedenlucas.org