Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: A Monument to Eccentricity

Yesterday, my retired parents and I departed home for a Colorado vacation and family reunion. As I had previously persuaded the travel planner to spend the first night in Limon, CO instead of pushing through to Denver or beyond, we had some extra time on our day’s drive. Our first stop was The Garden of Eden in Lucas, KS, a yard full of towering concrete sculptures handmade by S.P. Dinsmoor in the early 1900s. Part Hieronymus Bosch, part social commentary, and all eccentric, the Garden continues to fascinate visitors generations later.


Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: sign at exit

Parking across the street, we’re first greeted by this sign at the grand … exit.

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: revolutionaries

Walking clockwise around the street corner toward the entrance, we see these human sculptures. All of the representational art is around the perimeter; everything inside the garden, as we saw shortly, is functional or geometric.

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: front of house

The tour — guided or self-guided — begins inside the house, after paying a relatively modest $6 admission fee.

The house, also built by Dinsmoor, has a relatively conventional period interior, with wooden floors, steep stairs, and gables.

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: Please do not open this door

In the cellar of an eccentric, under a low ceiling with a stout meat hook, next to bottles of chemicals and preservatives, I really needed no exhortation not to open the heavy wooden door.

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: ornate concrete deck

The rear balcony and ornate rail are concrete as well.


Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: floral ziggurat

Proceeding clockwise around the yard, one wonders whether Dinsmoor planned the flowers on the ziggurat or whether they were added later to give a pretense of cheer.

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: mausoleum

In the northeast corner is the mausoleum he built. His first wife is encased in concrete (after her demise, one hopes) and Dinsmoor himself is on display behind glass, greatly decomposed.

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: animal pens

Near the center of the small yard are these animal pens. Not having selected the guided tour, I’m not certain what kind of animals he kept …

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: underground animal den

but he constructed these underground dens for them.

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: tools used to build home and garden

On the west edge of the yard is the work shed with a display of the hand tools used in the construction of the house and sculptures.

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: Eve, snake, apple, and Adam

Just past the shed is the exit, with a closer view of the original couple.

Perimeter Sculptures

As I mentioned earlier, most of the elaborate sculptures are around the perimeter.

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: buzzard lights

With a definitely flair for the grotesque, most of the yard lights are animals …

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: buzzard light, profile

vomiting up light bulbs. Yum.

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: snake and bird

And one can make a plausible guess

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: snake and rodent

what part of the garden story and what animal

Garden of Eden, Lucas, KS: snake and rodent on tower

most captivated Dinsmoor’s attention.

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