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Fred G. Zimmerman, Garage

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About the Artist/Site

To prepare for the influx of family and friends around the turn of the century, Swiss fraternal orders built several houses in New Glarus, Wisconsin, an enclave of families with ancestral ties to Switzerland.  Fred Zimmerman lived in one of these homes, a large, tapestry brick construction at 1319 Second Street. 

In the 1920s, Zimmerman encrusted a tall, slender, cement flagpole with broken crockery and created an elaborate base.  He then built a foursquare garage and a birdhouse of the same shape, covering both with concrete which he embellished with the contents of several china cabinets.  Zimmerman’s garage surface is a mosaic of symbol and decoration. Surfaces of flat pattern, created with fragmented china and glassware, are brought into focus by subtle shapes: white crosses, a beehive, pyramids, flowers, and a star.  Embellished flags announce his allegiances to Switzerland and America.  A shield, perhaps to honor his former Swiss province, is dated 1939. Zimmerman’s work is related to and perhaps was inspired by the tradition of embellished concrete architecture, sculptures, and structures, established on a large scale at the Dickeyville Grotto in Dickeyville, Wisconsin, about 65 miles west of New Glarus.

Zimmerman’s creation remains on site (as of April 2011.) The building is privately owned.

~Lisa Stone

SPACES Archives Holdings

35mm slides by Jim Zanzi and Lisa Stone

Map and site information

1319 2nd St
New Glarus, Wisconsin, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 42.807445 / -89.635495

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