Profile Response: Lynn Schneider, Garden of Eden, Lucas KS

HWWLT Logo on yellowNothing keeps a man vital more than a consuming obsession except, perhaps, a wife a third his age. S.P. Dinsmoor had both. The Civil War veteran and pioneer to the Kansas plains began building his elaborate home in Lucas, KS at age 62. A consummate showman, he gave tours to visitors who stopped on the train from Kansas City to Denver. The first floor rooms have elaborate woodwork and boasted the first electric lights in the area. His family didn’t occupy the tourist level; they lived in the basement and slept upstairs.

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After the house was complete he transformed the yard. First, sculpting an arbor with Adam and Eve entitled ‘Garden of Eden.’ Then depicting other Biblical stories. Eventually he cast populist figures, including a battered farmer being crucified by a banker, an attorney, and a politician. But the guy had a sense of humor – he depicted himself taking money from laborers, since he continued to charge people to see his creation.

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At age 81 Dinsmoor married a young immigrant in her twenties. They had two children. He died at age 92, though his widow continued to live at Garden of Eden, and earn her livelihood from tours, until the 1950’s. Their two children are considered the youngest children of any Civil War veteran in our country; Dinsmoor’s son served in Vietnam.

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-2-49-06-pmThe Garden of Eden became a curiosity until the Kohler Foundation, which is focused on preserving America folk art, invested in restoring the place in the early 2000’s and spurred Lucas’ claim as our Grassroots Arts Capital.

 

Lynn Schneider moved to Lucas in 2006. “I am from Lebanon, KS, which is the geographical center of the 48 states. I saw what happened when that attraction lost its appeal. We lost our motel and our cafe.” She gave me a tour through Dinsmoor’s house and the Garden of Eden, culminating in the mausoleum where Dinsmoor’s mummified body is on display: a showman to the end.

How will we live tomorrow?

img_7435“I don’t really know. I live day to day. These small towns are struggling.”

 

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About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, theawkwardpose.com is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog, www.howwillwelivetomorrw.com, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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