Kohler is restoring The Garden of Eden in Lucas, KS!

The Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas is undergoing a remarkable transformation. A team of art conservators, technicians and interns from Kohler Foundation, Inc. of Kohler, Wisconsin has begun cleaning and restoring the sculpture-filled environment so that they will be close to what S. P. Dinsmoor first envisioned in 1906. This restoration work began prior to the Kohler Foundation completing the purchase of the Garden from Garden of Eden, Inc., which has taken care of the site for over two decades.

This transformation is the culmination of a three year conversation, between Garden of Eden, Inc. (the owner of the Garden) and the Kohler Foundation, concerning the future well-being of the site. John Hachmeister, the founder of Garden of Eden, Inc., first met with Kohler Foundation Executive Director, Terri Yoho in 2008 while visiting the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Hachmeister said, “I asked Terri if there was a way the foundation could help us with restoration of the Garden.”  He went on to explain, “in the 23 years we had been caring for the site, we had never had the funds or the expertise to tackle some of the more daunting repair issues the concrete sculpture gave us. Dinsmoor was a true artist in the way he pushed the limits of his ability and the materials he used. Unfortunately for us, some of the techniques and materials, like reinforcing concrete with window screen, have failed over time.”  Ms. Yoho replied by suggesting the site should be sold to the Kohler Foundation so they could carry out a complete restoration/ preservation plan.

The Kohler Foundation is the leading organization in the world committed to preservation and restoration of sites like the Garden. Terri was very clear in what they could do and how they would proceed. It took the next several years for Garden of Eden owners to negotiate an agreement that would be best for the Garden, the Lucas community, and the stockholders.said Hachmeister. The Kohler Foundation has stepped in to tackle the restoration process and will help with future care.  Once the restoration work is complete, Kohler will deed the site to a non-profit corporation, “Friends of S. P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden”. The “Friends” organization will continue management of the site as a tourist attraction in keeping with Dinsmoor’s original vision. The board of this non-profit includes Lucas community leaders as well as individuals active in the arts at the University of Kansas.

Hachmeister recalls that the reason he first arranged for the purchase of the Garden of Eden was to insure it would stay intact in Lucas. There is a sad history of sites like these being cut up and sold piece-meal to collectors on both coasts and he didn’t want to see this happen to the Garden of Eden. At that point, he didn’t fully realize the commitment in time and money the Garden owners were taking on.

The Garden of Eden, the City of Lucas, the State of Kansas, and the Nation are indebted to the Kohler Foundation for this remarkable act of philanthropy. There could be no better future for this remarkable work of art. The Kohler Foundation, with the guidance of Terri Yoho,. has insured the Garden of Eden will be there for future generations, said Hachmeister.

Contact information:

Terri Yoho, Executive Director Kohler Foundation 920-458-1972

John Hachmeister, Director Garden of Eden, Inc.  785-863-2982 Office- 785-864-3274 hachmeister@ku.edu