JOHN CHRISTENSEN Itasca Rock Garden (Christensen Rock Garden) (c. 1925-1938)
Located in small-town Albert Lea, Minnesota, the Itasca Rock Garden — it sits on the former Itasca Village that graced the land from 1855-1890 — or Christensen Rock Garden if you prefer — it was built by John Christensen — is another unique art environment of yesteryear. It is not hard to immediately imagine that this spectacle was at one point in time one of the most magical places in the Midwest. Perhaps that’s why it was often home to many, many weddings!
It has seen better days, and thanks to the Kohler Foundation, it is in the process of looking like what it once was. This rock garden was started in 1925 by an immigrant from Denmark, John Christensen, and finished in 1938, just before his death. Christensen lived on the property and built what began as a castle-like vegetable cellar big enough to fit nearly a dozen people inside and turned into a fantasyland of rocks, geodes, bridges, arches, and even a more miniature castle across the garden.