Merit Award Winner
Project Name: Our Lady of Guadalupe Vision Plan
Location: Endeavor, Wisconsin
Design Team: POPLAND Studio, LLC
Located in the town of Endeavor, WI, with a population of 468 people, this project originally started from an initial desire by the client to provide what could simply be characterized as a pedestrian path connecting a parking lot to an abandoned shrine. After the landscape architect visited the site with the client and heard more about the story behind the original grounds dating back to 1950s, the project scope quickly expanded into creating a vision plan that would capture the spiritual, educational, and social uses that once defined the 1-acre site as a community center for supporting seasonal migrant workers traveling from Puerto Rico to Mexico. The project was no longer about connecting point A to point B, but rather providing a landscape grounded in deeper cultural significance, while reconnecting it with the greater community of Endeavor.
The overall vision plan is divided into a series of intimate garden rooms, designed to provide moments of respite while encouraging spiritual reflection. Many of the proposed site elements and spaces relate back to past uses discovered during an in-depth photo and material analysis that documented the early development of the La Casa de Nuestro Senora de Guadalupe grounds during the 1950s-1960s.
Significance to the Profession:
The process of rediscovering and celebrating the stories and history of landscapes that supported historically underrepresented populations is a unique role that more landscape architects should be leading within communities across the United States. Ultimately, our profession can help our clients reframe a more inclusive view of what defines a site's identity, and its sense of place. In the case of the La Casa de Nuestro Senora de Guadalupe, also known as Our Lady of Guadalupe House, this site was critical for supporting the educational, spiritual, and social needs of seasonal migrants that traveled thousands of miles every summer to work the agricultural fields that defined much of Endeavor's rural landscape. For those seasonal farmers from Puerto Rico to Mexico, this site was a place of respite for families to build community wellbeing.
Significance to the Local Community:
In the mid-1950s community and religious leaders, including the client, came together with hopes of making the families of migrant workers feel more at home in Endeavor. It started with a trailer -- “La Capilla de Santa Fe” -- which held a portable altar, so outdoor masses in Spanish could be held at the center. Over the next few years, a summer school program was provided to over a 100 kids, and was followed by the construction of an official chapel and church with a school, hillside stations of the cross, outdoor shelter for socials, play area, medical center, and an outdoor shrine with a mosaic dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Everything was hand built, piece-by-piece, by community members, down to the smallest details, including the colorful mosaic composed of shards of glass from old beer and soda bottles, Noxzema jars, plates, and vases. “The whole reason for doing it [building the shrine and community center] was to honor the migrant workers and to let them know they were valued,” Sister Stagney. It's not often you have a site that is completely funded and built by the overall community.
Telling a Complete History:
Many Wisconsin rural communities have landscapes of cultural significance that have unfortunately become forgotten overtime, or if there is a story it often overlooks the value and contributions of underrepresented communities of color. This project is special in the sense that it has a community champion that wants to not only reinvest in a rural project to benefit today's community of Endeavor, but honor and celebrate a spiritual site history deeply defined by the Puerto Rican and Mexican migrant workers and their families.