Planning for the garden began in fall 2016 after the depot was moved.
Building the Garden
Physical work on the garden began in fall 2018.
Three sculptures were donated for the garden. The first two were created by Nick Swearer, who in Northfield as a youth and is currently a well-known sculptor in Connecticut. When he was a teenager, he also created “Iggy,” the giant iguana built of 12,500 railroad spike heads that is now at the Science Museum of Minnesota in Saint Paul.
The larger of the two sculptures, “Flame”—created by Swearer in 1973—was subsequently donated to the City for the site at the corner of Highway 3 and 3rd Street. Swearer returned to Northfield to repair both “Flame” and “Tree” (see more below). Rick Swearer, his brother, later applied a protective coat to the sculpture using a torch to heat a paraffin and oil mixture, applying it with a brush, and then heating the sculpture so the mixture would be very thin and cover evenly.
Swearer created “Tree” as a 14 year-old for the donor, the Mariea Guthrie family, using railroad spikes discarded by the railroad on the current depot site in 1969 and offered to Swearer as a youth.
The third sculpture, “Wind Piece,” was created in the 1960s by John Maakestad, a Professor of Art at St. Olaf College. It was donated by the Dixon Bond family in his memory.