Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

Highway 13 South

National or State Register of Historic Places
Highway 13 South | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Wisconsin Concrete Park
Reference Number:05001195
Location (Address):Highway 13 South
Wisconsin Concrete Park
Highway 13, Town of Worcester, Price County
Designer: Fred Smith

The Wisconsin Concrete Park is an outdoor museum comprised of over 200 embellished concrete and mixed media sculptures built between 1948 and 1964 by Fred Smith, a retired lumberjack and self-taught artist. Installed throughout Smith's northwoods property near Phillips, WI, the site is a historical panorama of life-size and larger-than-life tableaux depicting people, animals, and events from local, regional and national history, from local lore, and from Smith's expansive imagination.

Fred Smith was born in 1886 to first generation German immigrants to Price County. He built his house, barn, and tavern on property he homesteaded in 1903. Smith worked in regional lumber camps from his early teens until 1948, when he retired due to severe arthritis. At that time he began to build bas relief plaques and sculptures in the vicinity of his tavern. Smith's work evolved from two dimensional into three-dimensional sculptures and tableaux, which he built on an ambitious scale throughout his property. Smith called his sculptural environment the Wisconsin Concrete Park. He focused his energy on its creation until he suffered a stroke in 1964, and was unable to continue.

Smith made sculpture within the longstanding, formal tradition of commemorative monuments and memorials, and within a regional tradition of grotto building. Conceived and created in his senior years, Fred Smith built the Wisconsin Concrete Park as a gift "for all the American people." The site is recognized as a masterwork in the genre of 20th century sculptural environments created by self-taught artists.

The Park is now owned by Price County and is open during daylight hours.

Period of Significance:1948-1964
Area of Significance:Art
Applicable Criteria:Architecture/Engineering
Historic Use:Domestic: Single Dwelling
Historic Use:Commerce/Trade: Restaurant
Historic Use:Recreation And Culture: Work Of Art (Sculpture, Carving, Rock Art)
Historic Use:Landscape: Garden
Architectural Style:Late 19th And Early 20th Century American Movements
Resource Type:Site
Architect:Smith, Fred
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
National Register Listing Date:10/28/2005
State Register Listing Date:04/15/2005
Number of Contributing Buildings:2
Number of Contributing Sites:1
Number of Contributing Structures:0
Number of Contributing Objects:61
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:1
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:0
Number of Non-Contributing Objects:0
National Register and State Register of Historic Places, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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