Jacob Baker House
psi at work with a small chisel


Jacob Baker House

Known as Jake, Jacob Baker was born around 1880. He lived in the Driftless Region,
in the Upper Mississippi River Valley, in northwestern Illinois. Jake Baker was a carpenter and house builder, who also created yard ornaments, such as the richly embellished star, and the lovely little house on posts.

Stone first encountered a larger (48” x 48” x 48” embellished concrete house by Baker, on Catlin Street in Elizabeth, IL, in 1973.The house/sculpture had apparently been moved from place to place and once graced the lobby of the DeSoto House Hotel in Galena, Illinois. It was moved from Catlin Street to 315 N. Ash Street in Elizabeth, sometime in the 1980s. Stone and Jim Zanzi took students to see it, on field trips exploring the impact of the Dickeyville Grotto on
regional builders, for many years.

Hearing that it was for sale, Stone and Howlett purchased it and it was moved to Spring Lake, Wisconsin in 1991.

In 2006 the Jacob Baker House was given to Kohler Foundation, Inc. to be conserved and gifted to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. Kohler Foundation retained Howlett to conserve the sculpture, which had suffered from many years in the sun, wind, rain, and snow.

The The house was moved to a small studio in October 2006. The conservation required complete structural stabilization from the interior and extensive restoration of surface elements, including making cast replicas, searching for replacement parts, and creating infill in broken pieces.

Once restoration was completed the piece was moved to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in 2007, and was shown in the Art Center’s outstanding exhibit Sublime Spaces and Visionary Worlds.

Please click here to see a selection of images from the project.