You are here

“The World's Smallest Grotto”

-A A +A
1946–1976, John Korbes. 520 S. Governor St.
  • "The World's Smallest Grotto"

Iowa City's contribution to America's folk follies was constructed over a period of some 30 years by a retired motel-keeper, John Korbes. The builder/designer started off with a tiny chapel, to which he later added a small-scale windmill, a “museum,” a wishing well, a cross, and a podium upon which cement animals are corralled. He introduced electric lighting, often in unexpected locations, and fountains here and there. The surfaces of all of these concrete constructions were enriched with an unbelievable array of colorful objects, ranging from pieces of broken pottery to seashells and plastic objects of the 1950s and 1960s. As is so frequently the case with folk follies, “The World's Smallest Grotto” seems to be designed for the moment, not as an object meant to last decades or more. Korbes's grotto is slowly disintegrating, but this ruinlike quality only adds to its melancholy charm.

Writing Credits

Author: 
David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim
×

Data

What's Nearby

Citation

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim, "“The World's Smallest Grotto”", [Iowa City, Iowa], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/IA-01-CE288.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.

, ,