Nick Engelbert’s Grandview
psi at work with a small chisel

 

Nick Engelbert’s Grandview

The legendary Holy Ghost Park, an extensive landscape of sculptures and structures built of highly embellished concrete (popularly known as the Dickeyville Grotto), in Dickeyville, WI, inspired a number of builders in the region to embellish buildings and create entire environments out of similar materials within their own home landscapes. Nick Engelbert was born in what was then Austro-Hungary in 1881. After an early peripatetic life he settled in Hollandale, WI and started a small dairy farm. Having seen and been inspired by the Dickeyville Grotto,  Engelbert began the transformation of home and yard  into sculpture garden/roadside attraction in 1937. He animated the hillside property with over forty sculptures that honor the nationalities of immigrants to the region, aspects of local and regional history, also celebrating mythology, popular culture, and his family. His wife Katherine developed sumptuous gardens that complemented the sculptures and tableaux, and they called the site Grandview, fusing sculpture and garden with the breathtaking surrounding landscape.

The Engelberts had passed on by the early 1960s and by the 1980s the house was rarely occupied and the unattended and the site suffered from neglect. In 1991 Kohler Foundation, Inc. acquired Grandview and made plans for an extensive preservation project. The site was in a severe state of deterioration and through KFI’s project it was  restored completely. In 1997 the site was gifted to the Pecatonica Educational Charitable Foundation (PEC Foundation), a non-profit that was formed, in part, to accept custodianship  of Grandview. For additional information about the site and the preservation projects please see:
 http://www.kohlerfoundation.org/ and http://www.nicksgrandview.com/Welcome.html

Stone was retained by Kohler Foundation, Inc. in 1995 to identify and organize all sculptural and architectural fragments. In 1997 Stone was retained as curator of interpretation for the restoration project. This entailed creating interpretive plaques throughout the site, so visitors could distinguish between original works by Engelbert, and those that were replicated from originals or reconstructed  using original components. Site interpretation included an entry area with plaques conveying site history, a timeline, and information about the preservation. Smaller plaques were installed unobtrusively throughout the site, to interpret the evolution of individual works. Exhibits were created in the Engelbert house to interpret Nick Engelbert’s work as a sculptor and painter.

Howlett was retained by the Pec Foundation, from 2003 to 2005, to restore damaged or deteriorated areas of the site, and to reconstruct figures using extant fragments. One of three figures in the Swiss Patriots tableau had been missing for decades. Using vintage documentation Howlett recreated the figure, and the tableau was complete for the first time in years.

Please click here to see images of treatments described above.

Images 1 –7 are of Stone’s work on fragment organization and site interpretation. Images 8 - 30 are of Howlett’s sculpture restoration work.