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Not long after they retired, Paul and Matilda Wegner visited the Holy Ghost Park in Dickeyville, WI (about 150 miles south) in 1929. Impressed with what they saw, they were inspired to reproduce the handiwork themselves at their summer farm home near Cataract, WI. The work, done mostly during the summers, started in 1929 and continued until after 1936. (When Paul died in 1937, Matilda added finishing touches.) Neither one of them had any formal art training.
The project began with fences along the road. The fences and sculptures are made of concrete and stone and encrusted with broken glass, crockery, and shells. Like Father Wernerus, the Wegners were German immigrants and one of their first creations was a 12’ long model of the Bremen ocean liner of the 1930s. They followed up with a non-denominational chapel known as the Little Glass Church. They also built other free-standing sculptures including an American flag, a reproduction of their 50th anniversary wedding cake and birdhouses.
The Wegner family sold the Grotto in 1986 to the Kohler Foundation which restored the site. In 1987, the Foundation gave the Grotto to Monroe County. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.
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