Ferdinand Cheval, the creator of Palais Idéal, was born in 1836 in Charmes-sur-l’herbasse, a village near Hauterives, France. He worked as a rural postman for most of his life.
In 1879, at the age of 43, Cheval stumbled over a rock during one of his mail delivery runs. Inspired by the rock’s unusual shape, Cheval began his dream of creating a palace. He worked on Palais Idéal for 33 years, and it took approximately 3,500 bags of lime to construct the palace. Read more…
Stephen Wright is an artist and designer from East Dulwich, an area of south London, England. About 31 years ago, he began transforming his house and garden into the House of Dreams Museum. He was inspired to create the museum after viewing Jarvis Cocker’s documentaries on outsider art, called Journeys into the Outside with Jarvis Cocker (which I highly recommend watching). His museum is full of elaborate mosaics and found object sculptures. It also serves as a shrine for his memories and a tribute to his deceased partner and parents. It was bequeathed to the National Trust and is open to the public. The visiting hours are listed on his website.
Grandview is a sculpture garden located in Hollandale, Wisconsin. In the 1930s, self-taught artist and dairy farmer, Nick Engelbert, began working on this sculpture garden. His wife, Katherine, added her own personal touch by creating lovely garden beds around each of the sculptures. Engelbert started his creations as wooden and wire mesh armatures, which he then embellished with mosaics of glass, shells, and other found materials. Engelbert’s subject matter ranged from fairy tales to patriotic motifs.
After his wife passed away in 1960, Engelbert sold Grandview and moved to Baltimore to live with his daughter. He left behind a beautiful landscape of forty sculptures. Left on its own, the property began to slowly decay and in some cases, vandalism came into play. Fortunately, the Kohler Foundation bought the property in 1991 and began restoring it. There is now an educational program for Grandview as well.
Here is a link to a video about Grandview created by The Wisconsin Art Environment Consortium.
Image Credits (top to bottom): 1) From my photo archives 2 & 3) via Interesting Ideas
The Gingerbread Castle, originally a fairy tale themed amusement park, is located in Hamburg, New Jersey. The castle was designed in 1928 by the Austrian architect and set designer, Joseph Urban, and commissioned by F.H. Bennett. Bennett purchased the property in 1921 to expand the operations of his company, F.H Biscuits (a dog biscuit manufacturer).
Bennett decided to create his fairytale castle after seeing Urban’s set design work at a performance of “Hansel and Gretel” by the Metropolitan Opera. Also, Bennett drew inspiration from memories of reading the Brothers Grimms’ fairytales as a child.
The castle opened in 1930, and it quickly became a popular tourist destination. Unfortunately, by the early 1980s, the castle started to slowly deteriorate. During the past several years, the property has gone through several transformations. At separate points, the property has been used as a haunted house and as a nightclub.
In 2004, Frank Hinger, a New Jersey resident, purchased the property. Hinger started the restoration process with assistance from grants, fundraisers, and supporters of the castle. The property eventually became too expensive for him to fully revitalize, and Hinger decided to sell it. A real estate developer bought the property with intentions to continue the restoration process. So far, not much has been done, and the castle is falling into a state of disrepair. Visitors should note that the property is currently closed and fenced off. The castle can still be seen from the road.