Paul Dobberstein

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Paul Dobberstein statue at the Grotto of the Redemption

Paul Matthias Dobberstein (September 21, 1872 – July 24, 1954) was a German American priest and architect.

Dobberstein was born in Rosenfeld, Germany to Francis "Frank" Dobberstein and Julia Froehlich.

Father Dobberstein was educated at the University of Deutsch-Krone in Germany and at the St. Francis Seminary, in St. Francis, Wisconsin. He was ordained on June 30, 1897.[1]


The Liberty Fountain in John Brown Park, Humboldt

He is known for designing and building a series of religious grottoes:

His most famous work, however, is The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption, in West Bend, Iowa,[2] in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sioux City. This is actually a series of several connected grottoes.[3] At the neighboring church of Saints Peter and Paul, he also created a fountain and, inside, a majestic nativity scene.

Father Dobberstein's works inspired Mathias Wernerus (who also attended St. Francis Seminary) to build the Dickeyville Grotto in Dickeyville, Wisconsin in 1930,[4][5] thus starting the grotto building movement in America.[6]

Pastoral career[edit]

In addition to his prolific works of art and stone, he led a busy life as the pastor of Saints Peter and Paul there in West Bend for more than 57 years. His signature appears on over a thousand baptism records from his time in the parish.


  • An Explanation of the Grotto of the Redemption
  1. ^ Grotto of the Redemption, Archived November 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend, Iowa,
  3. ^ West Bend - Sts. Peter and Paul Archived 2008-10-14 at the Wayback Machine.,
  4. ^ History of Providence Home Health Care Center of Jasper,
  5. ^ Grotto of the Redemption,
  6. ^ Grotto of the Redemption Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine.,

External links[edit]