Wandering Wisconsin

PAUL AND MATILDA WEGNER GROTTO

After a visit to the Holy Ghost Park in Dickeyville, Wisconsin, German immigrants Paul and Matilda Wegner were inspired to begin their own “retirement project” in 1929. Neither Paul nor Matilda Wegner had received any formal training in art; still their imaginative grotto at their summer home arose from a powerful personal vision.

The Grotto’s concrete sculptures grew to include a giant reproduction of the Wegners’ fiftieth anniversary cake, a glass-encrusted birdhouse, and a twelve-foot facsimile of a 1930s ocean liner. Other constructions were religious or patriotic in nature. Surrounding the yard is an ornate fence with a concrete archway spelling out the word “Home” in crushed black glass.

The Wegners engulfed the Grotto in color and light by decorating their concrete sculptures with a brilliant mosaic of shattered glass, broken crockery, arrowheads, gunpowder casings, and seashells.

After Paul died in 1937, Matilda continued to work on the Grotto, adding finishing touches to many of the pieces and creating colorful embellishments for the nearby cemetery where Paul was buried. Matilda died in 1942. Paul's and Matilda's graves are marked by monuments similar to the sculptures found in the Grotto.

Hwy 71, 1/4 mi. west of Hwy 27, Cataract, WI 54656
(608) 269-8680
Monday–Friday, 8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
www.monroecountyhistory.org/wegnergrotto.php