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Orpha & E.K. (Earl Kline) Lund, Lund's Scenic Garden

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About the Artist/Site

When evangelists Orpha and E.K. (Earl Kline) Lund received a donation in 1944 of sixteen areas of land in Maple City, Michigan, they began a project they had long imagined: the creation of a series of painted scenes portraying the life of Jesus, installed in an outdoor setting.

The couple, which had previously painted scenery for church plays, labored for four years to clear the land and to create figures for it. They were not young when they began. E.K., a former professional magician turned ordained minister, was 45, and Orpha, who had survived a heart attack a year earlier, was nine years his senior. Summers were dedicated to felling trees and building trails; in cold-weather months, the Lunds cut figures out of fiberboard. E.K., who had learned sign painting in California, became the site’s primary draftsman. Orpha filled in the sketched figures with exterior house paint.

Lund’s Scenic Garden opened in August 1948 with twenty-eight stage-like scenes. (The couple later added more, to total thirty-six.) During this period Orpha also joined her husband as a minister in the United Brethren of Christ church. Although the Lunds were proud of their affiliation, Orpha made clear in a booklet she wrote about the Garden that their project was “undenominational.” In keeping with their beliefs, they charged no admission, but accepted donations. The Garden was open daily, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., from Memorial Day through the first of October.

At first the Lunds conducted tours during the day and every evening; but when the number of visitors grew into the thousands, they allowed guests to conduct self-guided daylight tours. At night, visitors could follow the artist-evangelists over a meandering, 1,400-foot sawdust-covered trail to view their “painted story of faith,” illuminated by electric lights, among stands of old hemlocks.

Orpha Lund died in 1965, but E.K. continued to maintain the Garden, opening during the summer with the assistance of family members and visiting seminarians. In 1980, when the lighting equipment failed, E.K. decided to halt evening hours rather than take on the expense of rewiring. Daylight viewing continued for seven more years. In November 1987, the artist and his family sold the property and its contents were sold at auction. Two small figures were later donated to the American Museum of Folk Art.

~Holly Metz



Related Documents

Letter to E.K. Lund from SPACES/Seymour Rosen, 3/20/1986

Letter to SPACES from Kathryn Thornberry, Lund Scenic Gardens, 3/26/1986

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “Our Lord’s Last Supper”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The Garden of Gethsemane”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The Crucifixion”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The Baptism”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “Jesus Blessing the Children”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “Jesus at the Mt. of Olives”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The Nativity”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The Sea of Galilee”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “Knocking at the Door”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The World for Jesus”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The Ascension”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The Flight into Egypt”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The Resurrection”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “Jesus at twelve in the Temple”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The visit of the Wise Men”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “Jesus before Pilate”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The Annunciation”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The Road to Emmaus”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The Samaritan woman at Jacob’s wall”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “The Good Shepard”

postcard for Lund’s Scenic Garden. image of “Jesus went with Joseph and Mary to Nazareth..”

pamphlet for Lund’s Scenic Garden. Pamphlet giving history, background, and visiting information

Letter to Traverse City Chamber of Commerce from SPACES/Elaine Wintman, 2/26/1986

Letter from Traverse City Chamber of Commerce

Letter to SPACES/Seymour Rosen from Kathryn Thornberry, Lunds Scenic Garden, 3/25/1986

Letter to Kathryn Thornberry, Lund’s Scenic Garden from SPACES/Elaine Wintman, 4/1/1986

Map and site information

Not Exact Address
Maple City, Michigan, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 44.855458 / -85.855573

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