FATHER SCHEIER St. Peter’s Rock Grotto (1926-1933); Farmer, South Dakota // Rock from the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota, decorative petrified wood from North Dakota, sea shells from the Hawaiian Islands, marble from Tennessee, and one rock from Calista Catacombs in Rome, Italy
Father Scheier was born and raised in South Dakota and went to school for seminary training. Throughout his training he became exposed to numerous spiritual sites, probably Father Dobberstein — that dude was everywhere in the early 20th century — and while Father Scheier had no formal art training, he was a man who found art in religion and religion in art.
Back in the 1920s when Father Scheier begun construction on this Byzantine like temple structure, Farmer, South Dakota was thriving. Unfortunately, those good times came to an end due to the Great Depression and Father Scheier had to take up numerous jobs and pour all of his own personal money into this project. A vision quest of a project that once it was completed was one of the only signs of prosperity to a much smaller and much more desolate town. Making it a spiritual and prosperous sign for the times.
In 2001, the Grotto was added to the National Register of Historical Places, which was the impetus for allotting funds to put toward its restoration after decades of little or no maintenance. Father Scheier’s Grotto is considered a rare example of self-taught devotional art in the religious history of South Dakota.SPACES Archives