Petersen Rock Garden
One of the rock garden's many miniature buildings, 2013
|Location||7930 Southwest 77th Street
Deschutes County, Oregon
Petersen Rock Garden, formerly Petersen's Rock Garden and also known as the Petersen Rock Gardens, is a rock garden and museum on 4 acres (1.6 ha), located between the cities of Bend and Redmond in Deschutes County, Oregon, United States. Rasmus Petersen, a Danish immigrant who settled in Central Oregon in the early 1900s, began constructing the garden in 1935 using rocks he found within an 85-mile (137 km) radius of his family home. Petersen constructed detailed miniature castles, churches and other small buildings and monuments from a variety of rock types. He incorporated other design elements such as bridges, water features and natural landscaping. Petersen worked on the garden until his death in 1952; the garden has remained in his family's care since then. The garden, considered a roadside attraction with novelty architecture, includes roaming peafowl and a museum with a gift shop that sells rocks.
In 2011, Petersen Rock Garden was named one of Oregon's Most Endangered Places by the Historic Preservation League of Oregon (now known as Restore Oregon). In 2012, accidental damage to one of the stone bridges by a contractor catalyzed an effort to document the garden using laser scanning and other technologies. The garden was closed temporarily in 2013 to undergo repair and review for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Petersen has been praised for his creative work, and the garden has received a positive reception for its uniqueness and local significance. Listing on the National Register was achieved on October 30, 2013.
Petersen Rock Garden, considered a roadside attraction with "eclectic" novelty architecture, is located 3 miles (4.8 km) off U.S. Route 97, 10 miles (16 km) north of Bend and 7 miles (11 km) south of Redmond. It contains dozens of "fanciful" and "intricately detailed" miniature buildings, including castles, churches and cottages, constructed from agate, jasper, lava, malachite, obsidian, petrified wood and thundereggs. The 4-acre (1.6 ha) grounds also contain roaming peafowl and a small museum with a gift shop that sells rocks, including crystals, fossils and semiprecious gemstones. The museum features a fluorescent room with miniature castles constructed from manganese, tungsten, uranium and zinc that glow in the dark. Petersen Rock Garden is open every day from 9 a.m. until closing time, which varies depending on the season. As of 2009, admission is $4.50 for adults, at self-pay stations. It is not a member of the Oregon Museums Association.
Rasmus Petersen, a Danish immigrant who settled in Central Oregon in the early 1900s at age 17, began constructing the rock garden on the grounds of his family home in 1935. The "eccentric" farmer used rocks that he found within an 85-mile (137 km) radius. He attempted to evoke his native country with his designs, but also created monuments to the United States, including a concrete American flag and a 7-foot (2.1 m) replica of the Statue of Liberty. Petersen incorporated other design elements such as bridges, water features (lagoons, lily ponds and streams) and natural landscaping. He worked on the garden until his death in 1952; the garden has remained in his family's care since then. A bronze plaque in front of the Statue of Liberty replica reads: "Enjoy yourself: it's later than you think." Petersen's Rock Garden became known as Petersen Rock Garden in the mid-1950s. At its height, supported by traffic from the Old Bend-Redmond Highway, the garden drew approximately 150,000 visitors a year.
The garden is managed and owned by Petersen's grand-stepdaughter, Susan Caward, and her family, who has struggled to maintain the lawns and dozens of sculptures. In 2011, the garden was named one of Oregon's Most Endangered Places by the Historic Preservation League of Oregon (now known as Restore Oregon). The "Endangered Places" program raises awareness of the state's "historic treasures in need of the advocacy and support to save them from demise". According to the League, the deteriorating garden needed "maintenance, a business plan and a publicity campaign to ensure stewardship and funds are available to overcome vandalism, theft, and condition issues". In 2012, a contractor accidentally damaged one of the stone bridges, catalyzing an effort to document the garden using laser scanning and other technologies. The Portland-based company i-Ten measured and archived the site's geospatial data, allowing potential future rebuilding to match the original construction.
The garden was closed from February 1 through May 24, 2013 to undergo repair and review for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The family and ten volunteers worked for nearly six months to restore the grounds. The cleanup process included the removal of dead vegetation and junk from outbuildings, and an estate sale that included items from before Petersen's death. On May 25, 2013, Petersen Rock Garden hosted its "grand reopening". The opening was attended by members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, who sang and blessed the garden. Caward has considered opening a cafe on the grounds, and turning the family home into a bed and breakfast. Owen Evans, a friend of the family who has assisted with the restoration, has also envisioned a museum reorganization, a small amphitheater to host outdoor concerts and other events, and additional rock sculptures mimicking Petersen's style.
Petersen Rock Garden was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 30, 2013.
|Rock garden sculptures in Rasmus Petersen's Rock Garden (Myron Symons)|
|Rasmus Petersen's Rock Garden and pond (Myron Symons)|
|Rasmus Petersen's Rock Garden and house (Myron Symons)|
According to the Northwest Digital Archives, photographer Myron Symons typed the following description of the garden during the 1940s within a photo album that is now part of University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections:
Miniature castles, picturesque fountains and beautiful terraces within the grounds pictured here, on the Rasmus Peterson [sic] place between Bend and Redmond, Oregon, tell their own stories, but unless the visitor inspects the grounds carefully, and with a questing heart, he will fail to read the strange stories told by the ancient stones used in the construction.... Look twice at that bit of petrified wood, for it is a remnant of a great redwood forest that once flourished in Central Oregon.... Examine that banded rock carefully: It is a bit of a thunderegg hatched in the lavas of old Oregon.... Feel the cool surface of those glass-like rocks: They are volcanic glasses melted in plutonic fires.... Trace the growth rings on that bit of petrified sequoia: They tell a story of weather born of oceans that swept over beaches now elevated into Oregon mountains. Enjoy the blooms of these rock gardens, but do not overlook the stories of the rocks.
Petersen Rock Garden has attracted visitors from around the world. In 2009, The Oregonian's Terry Richard wrote that Petersen's work is "more than a half-century old, but it's still amazing". The Historic Preservation League of Oregon considers the garden a "real gem" for its local significance and its "unique expression of mid-century roadside architecture". Moon Publications described it as a "full-fledged rock fantasy" and a "rock garden to end all rock gardens", with a "funky" museum. Via, the online magazine for the American Automobile Association's West Coast club, called the garden "folksy" and Petersen "imaginative" for his work.
The garden has inspired at least one other Oregon resident to construct rock sculptures. Following his visit to Petersen Rock Garden in the early 1980s, Ira McKissen built nearly a dozen castles on the terraces of his Rowena home; some of them have since been relocated to his daughter's house, located 5 miles (8.0 km) west of The Dalles along the Historic Columbia River Highway (U.S. Route 30). In 2013, Pennan Brae released a music video for the song "Don't Know Nothing 'Bout Love", which was filmed at Petersen Rock Garden.
- Geology of the Pacific Northwest
- List of museums in Oregon
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Deschutes County, Oregon
- Kent, Kandra (May 26, 2013). "Petersen Rock Garden 'rocks' grand reopening". Bend, Oregon: KTVZ. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- "Guide to the Farm Home of Rasmus Petersen, Redmond, Oregon, Photograph Album ca. 1940–1950". Northwest Digital Archives. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
- Richard, Terry (June 8, 2009). "Have a rocking time at Petersen Rock Gardens". The Oregonian. Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications. ISSN 8750-1317. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
- "Petersen's Rock Garden". Historic Preservation League of Oregon. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
- Bell, Jon (June 2012). "Saving today for tomorrow". Oregon Business. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
- Jewell, Judy; McRae, W. C. "Petersen's Rock Garden". Moon Oregon (8 ed.). Moon Publications. Archived from the original on July 1, 2010. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
- Ostertag, Rhonda (November–December 2007). "Petersen Rock Garden". Via. AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
- "Susan Kayward, Petersen Rock Garden, Central Oregon". Oregon Cultural Trust. Retrieved May 28, 2013.
- McLean, Cheryl (July 1, 2007). Fun With the Family Oregon: Hundreds of Ideas for Day Trips With the Kids. Globe Pequot Press. p. 155. ISBN 0762743964. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- "View Museums by Region: Central Oregon". Oregon Museums Association. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
- Pugmire Hole, Leslie; Pinkerton, Trish (2009). Redmond. Arcadia Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 978-0738570891. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
- "A roadside attraction, Redmond rock garden gets a revival". The Bulletin (reprinted in the Register-Guard). Bend, Oregon. May 28, 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
- "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form" (PDF). United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
About 1950 Petersen married Frankie Nyleta Harris (1902–1987), who had two children by a previous marriage. After Mr. Petersen's death Mrs. Petersen is portrayed in the advertisements and articles as operating Petersen Rock Garden. In 1958 Petersen Rock Gardens became a corporation with Mrs. Petersen, her daughter Adele Hegardt, and Garthe Brown, an attorney, on the board, and in 1959 Nyleta Petersen and Carl Corbett transferred the property to Petersen Rock Gardens, Inc. Mrs. Petersen and Carl Corbett died within a year of one another in the late 1980s and on-going operation of the rock garden was taken over by Mrs. Petersen's daughter Adele Henne Hegardt (1923–2010) and her husband Harry Newton Hegardt (1917–1990). Since Mrs. Hegardt's death in 2010 the property has been owned by her daughter Susan Caward, who continues to operate it to this day.
- "Petersen Rock Garden closed through May". The Bulletin. Bend, Oregon: Western Communications. February 1, 2013. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
- "Agenda: Redmond Historic Landmarks Commission" (PDF). City of Redmond: Community Development Department. November 8, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
- "Grand Reopening of the Petersen Rock Gardens". Visit Bend. May 2013. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
- "Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 10/28/13 Through 11/01/13". National Park Service. November 8, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
- Baskas, Harriet (January 6, 2010). Oregon Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities, and Other Offbeat Stuff. Globe Pequot Press. pp. 256–257. ISBN 978-0762749713. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
- "Video of the day: Pennan Brae – 'Don't Know Nothing 'Bout Love' ". Oregon Music News. Portland, Oregon. January 29, 2013. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
- " 'Don't Know Nothing 'Bout Love' by Pennan Brae". Vimeo. 2013. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Petersen Rock Garden.|