Winter's ParkRichard Waison Winter (1858 - 1932)
649 Riverside Avenue, Mondovi , Wisconsin , 54755, United States
About the Artist/Site
Richard Waison Winter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Ira Winter in Tobyhannah, Pennsylvania, on March 27, 1858. When he was nine, the family relocated to Mondovi, Wisconsin, and established the Winter homestead. As an adult, Richard tragically lost three wives to assorted illnesses – Emily Eager in 1883, Naomi Otis in 1898, and Louise Dusenberry around 1909. He and Naomi had five children, two of whom died in childhood. With the exception of his years with Louise, Richard was left to raise his three boys (Miles, Harry, and Percy) alone. According to his obituary in the Mondovi Herald-News, he approached this hardship “with unflinching courage and determination, he put his shoulder to the task, keeping house, baking and doing many of the innumerable tasks of a mother besides bearing the burden of a wage earner.” The complimentary article goes on, “Sometimes it seemed impossible to stagger on under the crushing load, but love of the three small lads was sufficient motive to spur him on.”
Richard was a popular townsperson heavily involved in civic life in Mondovi, his home for 65 years. He served as both an assessor and alderman and was well-liked by his fellow community members. He was described as “a friend of everyone, especially the friendless.” His obituary also noted that his small, triangular sculpture park on Alma Avenue was “a source of constant joy to him” and “the bitter acid of trouble and grief had eaten into his iron will, but had failed to destroy his love of folks, his trust in them, his friendliness and his unfailing good nature.” He welcomed tourists from around the country to Winter’s Park – though he had at least four signs installed within the park instructing visitors to “keep out.”
Winter’s Park was built directly adjacent to a road where it would be visible to visitors without necessitating their entrance into the cordoned off display. At its prime, the park consisted of a garden and neatly installed collection of handmade concrete sculptures – smooth, unadorned, and simple in their design. The sculptures included a reclining deer looking upward toward the street, a bear posing on a log, a person sitting with their legs stretched out in front of them, and the beginnings of a tree, forked at the top but without branches. There were also several two-dimensional pieces installed directly onto the ground: two stars with an open circle in the middle for a shrub to grow connected by a long rectangular piece flanked by more plantings. The only piece not facing the road was what appears to be an alligator or large reptile – a strange inclusion compared to the other creatures native to northwestern Wisconsin.
Today, Winter’s Park is still visible but severely dilapidated. The bear on the log is missing its ears but is otherwise the most complete of the remaining sculptures. Both the deer and the human figure are now headless, and what was once a tree is now a short stump. None of the garden elements remain, and the sculptures now appear to dissolve into a sprawling lawn. The property is privately owned, and while the current owner plans to keep the sculptures installed, the probability is that they will continue to degrade due to exposure.
Map & Site Information
649 Riverside Avenue
Mondovi , Wisconsin , 54755 us
Latitude/Longitude: 44.5617156 / -91.6781759
Fountain City , WI
River Falls, Wisconsin
La Crosse, Wisconsin