Goodman Community Center | Lakeland Avenue resident has a trove of…

Lakeland Avenue resident has a trove of info in yard

Dean Proctor has created an installation in front of his house offering historical documents that paints a picture of what life used to be like in the neighborhood.

June 12, 2024 |
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Three “touch stones” are next to a box containing wise sayings from famous spiritual thinkers at 2134 Lakeland Ave.
Dean Proctor’s “touch stones” are next to a box containing wise sayings from famous spiritual thinkers at 2134 Lakeland Ave. It’s part of larger installation of information.

By Gil Halsted, neighborhood resident

Have you ever wondered what the Atwood neighborhood looked like 100 years ago? 500 years ago? A thousand years ago? As you walk around this beautiful little corner of the world where we live, do you ever stop for a moment along the Lake Monona shoreline and try to imagine what it looked like to someone taking the same stroll a decade ago or eons ago?

Dean Proctor has done that. He’s created an installation in front of his house at 2134 Lakeland Ave. that offers passersby a treasure trove of information, pictures, maps and historical documents that paints a picture of what life was like. The inspiration came to Dean about 20 years ago, he said.

Stones
Stones are a prominent part of the installation.

A few years later, he began building three boxes that now stand outside his home. One is stocked with folders of pictures, maps and documents about the human and geological history of the neighborhood. Another with astronomical information about what you can see in the skies above Lake Monona. And a third with wise sayings from famous spiritual thinkers. Beside this box are three large oblong stones that Proctor calls his spiritual “touch stones.”

The stones are identified as Acceptance, Gratitude and Forgiveness with a sign. They are the guideposts for his view of how to live in the wonderful world around him on the Lake Monona shore.

There’s a bench to rest on while you explore the history of what was once called “Shooting Park.” In the early 1900s, German residents who lived downtown used to come out on weekends to this area between what is now Yahara Place and Hudson parks to have picnics, drink beer and shoot guns.

In the 1830s, Chief Black Hawk of the Sauk passed through pursued by the Illinois state militia. Rewind another 500 years and you would have found the mound builders, Indigenous people who built mounds in the shape of lizards and panthers. The remains of some can still be seen along the lakeshore.

Back 600 million years ago, there were trilobites swimming in a tropical ocean covering Southern Wisconsin.

“Whether you are looking to connect with the history of this neighborhood, spiritual wisdom or the heavens, I invite neighbors to stop by, take a seat and indulge in these offerings,” Proctor said.

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