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Sparta, Wisconsin

Wegner Grotto

Homemade outdoor church and sculpture garden decorated with glass shards. 

In 1929, Paul and Matilda Wegner retired to their farm outside Cataract, Wisconsin. Although neither was an artist by trade, they were inspired, after seeing a home-made grotto in Dickeyville, to create a sculpture garden that would attract visitors from across the United States.

With a framework in mind, they began construction on a sculpture complex that would be both eye-catching and unique. Although the centerpiece of their work is the glass church, a small chapel covered in recycled glass shards, the Wegners also produced sculptures that were not remotely religious.

For the next seven years, the Wegners worked tirelessly on the grotto, building concrete replicas of their 50th wedding anniversary cake and the Bremen ocean liner. Following the style dictated by the glass church, they used the pieces of thousands of broken dishes, china and bottles to give their creations a vibrant and colorful touch.

In 1936, Paul passed away and had his funeral held inside of the glass church he created. Since that time, the grotto has been kept up by the Wegner family, and an endowment now exists to ensure its existence for years to come. Besides the average tourist stopping by this roadside complex, the Wegner Grotto is also available to book for weddings, and many couples have tied the knot inside the glass church.

Contributed by
serflac
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