Preservation of Mary Nohl environment moves forward

Contact: Patricia DuChene
Media Relations

Sept. 29, 2015 Sheboygan, WI

Conservation has begun in earnest at the Mary Nohl home in the Village of Fox Point, WI. The John Michael Kohler Arts Center has assembled a dedicated team of experts, including experienced preservation architects and art conservators, to restore the home, sculptures, and other works of art that comprise the famous artist environment at its original location on the western shore of Lake Michigan..

“Art conservators have been working at the site since midsummer and are expected to remain as long as weather permits in 2015; the conservation will then continue in spring of 2016,” said Ruth DeYoung Kohler, director of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. “We already see beautiful results in the condition of the sculptures.”

Mary Nohl’s property suffered severe damage due to major flooding in 2010 and other forces of nature over the years. The environment is listed on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places and the Wisconsin Registry of Historic Places as well as being designated as a Milwaukee County Landmark. In 2005, the Wisconsin Preservation Trust listed the site as one of the ten Wisconsin historic sites in greatest jeopardy. 

Construction began in late September and will run through the spring, with winter pauses as necessary. Plans for interior and exterior work received approval from the Fox Point Building Board and Historical Preservation Commission Sept. 23. In preparation for construction, most of the art originally applied to the exterior of the house by Nohl has been removed and will be restored off-site. The preservation architect has been in contact with Fox Point officials to ensure compliance with local property and zoning regulations.

In April 2015, the Arts Center announced its decision to restore the Nohl environment in situ following a year of intensive research. The nationally respected art conservators, the preservation architects, and the Wisconsin Historical Society representatives who provided counsel stated that any attempt to transport the large-scale sculptures and other aspects of the home to another location would put the environment at risk of irreversible damage. 

The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, located in Sheboygan, has specialized in the preservation of artist-built environments and has a several decades-long record of successful conservation projects. As the steward of this unique artistic treasure, the Arts Center will honor Mary Nohl’s legacy while maintaining a residential presence in the neighborhood. For more information about the Arts Center, visit

About the John Michael Kohler Arts Center: Founded in 1967, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is dedicated to making innovative arts programming accessible to a broad audience that ranges from artists and academics to families and youth of all ages. Central to its mission is promoting understanding and appreciation of the work of self-taught and contemporary artists through original exhibitions, commissioned works of art, performing arts programs, community arts initiatives, and publications. The Arts Center’s collections focus primarily on works by vernacular-environment builders, self-taught and folk artists, and works created in the Arts/Industry residency program.

Looking to the future, the Arts Center continues to generate new explorations in the arts that foster creative exchanges between an international community of artists and a diverse public, making real the power of the arts to transform lives and strengthen communities. The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is supported by corporate and foundation donors, government grants, and its many members. The Arts Center is not an entity of Kohler Co. or its subsidiaries. More information about the Arts Center can be found at

Admission to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center is by voluntary donation. Arts Center members receive a discount on performance and other event tickets, classes and camps tuition, purchases at ARTspace gift shops, and free or discounted admission to many special events. Memberships are available at the Arts Center, by visiting, and/or by calling 920-458-6144.

Arts Center Hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Arts Center is open at other times for special events