Kohler Foundation to Restore Itasca Rock Garden

The Freeborn County(Minnesota) Historical Society has announced that the Kohler Foundation has purchased and will restore the Itasca Rock Garden in Albert Lea, Minnesota. Although not on the NRHP at this time, the rock garden has a long history and is a revered asset of Albert Lea. The society says that the Kohler Foundation will gift the property to the Freeborn Historical Society sometime after the restoration is completed.

Also known as the Christiansen Rock Garden, construction was begun in 1925 by John Christiansen. He and his wife collected rocks for the garden when they travelled.

According to the Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi, the rock garden has sometimes been referred to as a "grotto" but there is no religious connotation to the collection. (Similar sites in the midwest have the term grotto in the name. Most are religious in nature, such as the Dickeyville Grotto.) The museum also reports that the extensive garden was comprised of lily ponds, bridges, miniatures, walls and numerous structures.

The last structure was added in 1938, John passed away in 1939. His wife continued to keep the garden open after his death, subsequent owners also kept it open to the public at least until 1952, when it was sold again.

Sources: Facebook: Itasca Rock Garden
Facebook: Save the Itasca Rock Garden
Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi: Christensen Rock Garden

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