Paine Art Center and Gardens

Oshkosh, WI
United States
Paine Art Center and Gardens

Occupying 3.5 acres in a residential area of Oshkosh, this estate and garden were built for lumber magnate Nathan Paine and his wife, Jessie. Landscape architect Bryant Fleming was commissioned to design the house and grounds. Although construction of the Tudor Gothic house commenced in 1927, the Great Depression slowed its completion and the family never resided there. Mr. Paine died in 1947, and his wife opened the property to the public one year later: the house became an art gallery and the grounds an arboretum.

Creating a woodland setting for the house, a horse pasture was planted with more than 500 specimens, with burr oak prominently featured. With advisement by horticulturist Edward Hasselkus, the arboretum grew to include trees such as blue spruce, Douglas fir, white pine, ginkgo, saucer magnolia, pagoda dogwood, and weeping crab . In the early history of the art center, an axial walk extended from the rear of the house, passed through a greensward, and arrived at formal gardens. By the 1990s, many of the trees had been lost to storms and disease, prompting the development of a master plan. Undertaken in 1999 by landscape architect Dennis Buettner, some twenty garden rooms were conceived to provide a diversity of experiences. Native and non-native plants were blended to provide demonstration gardens, with thematic displays designed by horticulturist Sheila Glaske to respond to exhibits inside the house. The property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.