The Georgia Trust

2010 PLACES IN PERIL: PARADISE GARDENS

The Story: In 1961, Howard Finster began his 30-year creation of Paradise Gardens, a folk art site consisting of a maze of buildings, sculptures and displays. The setting is a four-acre swampland that Finster drained by building numerous canals around the property. He built his folk art from found objects and recycled materials ranging from bottles, bathtubs and toilets to bicycle frames and cast-off jewelry.

Pardise Gardens has attained international pop icon status.  Finster and his folk art has been the subject of numerous articles and documentaries.  Images of the site can be seen on cover art and music videos from groups like REM and Talking Heads.  Finster and his Gardens were also featured on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

The Threat: The site was built from often fragile materials and is located in the damp climate of a former swamp. Continuous dredging is needed to maintain the canals Finster dug throughout the property. Constant damage from the elements has negatively affected many of the dozen or so structures.

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