Irv Young's Foundry


View Irving L. Young's landmarks in a larger map

Irving L. Young was a metalsmith who was the creator of the sculptures of which you speak. While I have not verified any of what I am about to write, I will tell all that I think I know.

I believe that Irv Young as a metalsmith invented a machine which could print on egg cartons at a young age which made him a lot of money. He and his wife Fern ended up purchasing a large amount of land between Palmyra and La Grange, a lot of which has now become part of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. On this land he built his own foundry on County Rd. H and as a hobby built these fantastic sculptures which can be seen from Dahlin Rd. The property, however, is all posted "No Trespassing" which is a shame because I remember the sculptures to be very beautiful.

http://www.wisconsinosity.com/Jefferson/jefferson.htmUnlike Dr. Evermore by Devil's Lake, Mr. Young forged all of his own metal in the foundry which still stands along County H and assembled the statues in his studio further back in the property. The studio itself was a work of art and in my opinion rivaled the architecture of another local hero. While the post-modern design work done by Frank Lloyd Wright not far away at Taliesin remains historically documented, Mr. Young only lives on the benovelence of Fern's donations after his death to help build many wonderful buildings bearing his name, like the Auditorium at UW-Whitewater and the Public Library on Center St. in Whitewater (mentioned in my article above).

It is a terrible shame in my opinion that these wonderful sculptures are fading into oblivion and are not available for public consumption. When my parents used to take me out to the bluffs when I was a kid in the 70's, Fern used to keep the grounds open and kept up. The sculptures had flowers planted at their bases and I even got to go into the studio a few times. It had a massive fireplace at the center of the building and was like walking into a dream world.

http://www.wisconsinosity.com/Jefferson/jefferson.htmThe other beautiful thing I remember is the star that Irv built at the top of Bald Bluff, the highest point in Walworth County. This really tall metal star sculpture used to have flourescent lights all around it which were lit every holiday season. It could be seen from miles away at night, and for folks hiking on the Ice Age Trail, it was only a few feet off the trail at the top of the bluff.

I always got the impression that Irv and Fern loved each other very much as the area has always been the most positive of energy for me. I remember talking to Loraine Gross, the first director at Irv Young Auditiorium about her friendship with Fern. Fern would tell Loraine about all of the travels and adventures she and Irv had had all around the world. I imagine these two wonderful ladies found that they had a lot in common as Fern had given Loraine so many beautiful pieces of art from all over the world, many which all over the offices of Young Auditorium. I have even heard that Irv and Fern found Samson the Gorilla on an African Safari and brought him back to the Milwaukee County Zoo. I definitely remember that huge old gorilla to this day, as would anybody my age from the Milwaukee area.

Even Irv and Fern's house has now been razed, which was to the south-east on Young Rd. I used to bike out there a lot and would see Fern outside working in the garden. The house was really cool, too, but done in a style different from Irv's buildings as it was all Watertown Cream brick and had a flat roof. After Fern died, it must have been in bad shape as I remember Fern insisting that all buildings she helped to have built must have a pitched roof.

About the only other thing I remember was the old crane at the eastern bend of Young Rd. In hindsight, I wounder if this is what Irv used to erect his sculptures?

Comments

Cool article

Hi Matt--my mom was good friends with Fern, too--I forwarded her this link and hopefully she'll comment on it.

Hope you're well!

Thayer