Iconic Photos

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Samuel P. Dinsmoor

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Samuel P. Dinsmoor of Lucas, Kansas served with distinction in the Union army during the Civil War. Dejected and deranged when his wife died in 1917, Dinsmoor retreated into building a log cabin out of limestone in his yard. He was neither an architect nor an engineer and at age 64, Dinsmoor was not even healthy. His cabin finished, Dinsmoor set out to create the intertwining concrete sculptures that would even be known as Dinsmoor’s “Garden of Eden.”

Termed as “Second Adam” by the sensationalist press of the time, Dinsmoor would continue to depict his interpretations of the Bible and modern civilization in the sculpture form for the next 25 years. At the age of 81, he married his 20-year old Czechoslovakian housekeeper and fathered two children. But a grim sense of memento mori was slowly catching up with him: he took a double-exposed photograph of himself looking at his “corpse” as a postcard. The photo–hugely popular for some reason–now hangs in his mausoleum, where the remains of Dinsmoor in a concrete Masonic coffin with a glass lid has been since his death in 1932. (Dinsmoor even prepared his death to be a part of the attraction).

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

March 3, 2010 at 1:04 am

Posted in Culture, Society

Tagged with ,

5 Responses

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  1. something doesn’t match here…
    if he was 64 in 1917, and died at 81 (the earliest, though he fathered 2 children, so that must be 82 at least), therefore 18 years later
    1917 + 18 = 1935 (so how did he died in 1932?)
    Also, it says that he sculpted for 25 years, therefore he had to had been 89 (64+25) when he died.

    Okay, after reading a bit more, it’s mentioned that he started the Garden in 1905 and he died when he was about 88 or 89.
    Sorry, the article just confused me a little, it seems like he started the garden because his wife died


    March 3, 2010 at 1:17 am

    • He actually started it when he built his home for his retirement. His wife died from an illness and he had already built the mausoleum. The city would not let him bury her there, so after she was buried in the cemetary, he and some of his friends went and dug her up and brought her to the mausoleum and encased her in cement. She is underneath his coffin. He had a very “screw the man” attitude. He was legendary for his time with thoughts of free state, women’s voting, immigrant voting and colored voting. It was like he could see into the future. fascinating place.


      September 21, 2012 at 11:17 am

  2. I’ve been to Dinsmoor’s home in Lucas, and the concrete sculptures are just fascinating! I’ve used my own photos to teach my students about Populism.

    Kristen Epps

    March 13, 2010 at 7:10 pm

  3. What is a little creepy to me is that the body of Dinsmoor is on display. It is also kinda funny that the top picture is double exposed meaning a picture of him alive standing was put on the picture of him resting in his coffin.

    Bethanie Gilliland

    February 5, 2011 at 12:48 am

  4. I think that this man and his creation is such a hoot! I loved visiting “The Garden of Eden”! It’s most definitely a “must see” road-side attraction…when you’re traveling through central Kansas.

    John Holmes

    July 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm

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