– “Witchy Woman” by the Eagles
Except for a brief stint as a teacher after art school, Mary Nohl lived her whole life in the house where she was raised. She never married, instead devoting herself to her art. In the late forties, following the deaths of her father and brother, her mother had to be moved to a nursing home. Finding herself alone in the house she loved, she got to work. She spent 50+ years covering every surface of her home with that art. Her carvings and her paintings made it a really unique place. However, her somewhat anti-social ways, the fact that she was a single woman at a time when women were defined by their husbands and their children, and the unusual look of her house started local tongues wagging. Idiotic rumors spread about her included:
- She was a witch (of course)
- She was a broken-hearted widow who was using her art to try to recreate her husband and murdered child
- She herself had murdered her husband and child, and their bodies were buried under her yard sculptures
- She was a ghost
- She was a crazy lady
In reality, she was just a loner and an artist with a love of animals and a tendency to keep to herself.
After her death in 2001, she left her house and all her works to the Kohler Foundation, an organization which preserves art environments. Unfortunately, for the first 12 years, the Foundation did little to preserve or secure the site. It fell into serious disrepair and was the victim of local vandals. Eventually, the Foundation moved the house and the other works to Sheboygan County where they reside today, restored and safe once again.
I hope you enjoy these photos of the house, the outbuildings, and the sculptures. It looks like a really fascinating place!