Built in 1907 by Civil War Veteran Sam Dinsmoor, it is also the country’s oldest intact folk art complex. At times called Visionary or Outsider art, it displays an elaborate set of editorial cartoons in cement, or “modern civilization as I see it,” according to Dinsmoor. But then he also warns, “I am bughouse, good and proper, but not on religion, perpetual motion or any other fool thing that I cannot find out one thing about.”
I visited one November afternoon not long ago, having driven 500+ miles out of my way. Who, then, is more “bughouse”? It was more than worth the drive.
(These detours were inspired by John Beardsley’s wonderful Gardens of Revelation: Environments by Visionary Artists, covering 25 such environments world-wide, a majority in the U.S. While not situated close to the geographic borderlands, I decided that such artistic and spiritual creations are so far out of the mainstream, they reside in borderlands of the mind. Truly, outsider art.)
“Samuel Perry Dinsmoor was born on March 8, 1843, in Ohio. He served in the Civil War as a nurse in the Union Army. After the war, Dinsmoor returned to Ohio and soon joined the Masonic Lodge. Joining this organization was a significant development in his philosophical outlook on life…”
Quotations are from “Pictorial History of The Cabin Home in Garden of Eden” by S.P. Dinsmoor, reprinted by Friends of S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden, 2002