the temple of tolerance

artist: jim bowsher (born: 1948)
built: late 1990s - present
where: 203 south wood street, wapakoneta, ohio
status: visible from the street (public visits possible)

Over the past 15 years, I've seen many amazing visionary art sites, but none quite like the one Jim Bowsher has created on Wood Street in Wapakoneta, Ohio. The Temple of Tolerance is really two separate, but interconnected environments. The first is his home, an incredible museum of artifacts from the America that wasn't written about in your school history books. It's the secret Smithsonian. A Grand Central Terminal for the Underground Railroad. An invisible library of unwritten books on Freemasons, Harry Houdini, and Neil Armstrong.

In the backyard, in fact over several backyards, is the actual Temple complex. It feels more like a place that been unearthed rather than constructed. (If that makes sense.) Massive glacial boulders mound up to form the central monument, dedicated to tolerance. Surrounding the main temple is a stage for summer music performances, a Vietnam War memorial, as well as a Tree of Life (constructed by neighborhood kids). Throughout the grounds you'll also find the archeology of good and evil: boundary markers from a Shawnee Indian reservation, slab steps from a Klan meetinghouse, stone dragons from Ireland, fragments from the first baseball park in Cincinnati, even a marble countertop from a bank that John Dillinger robbed.

"Perhaps more than anything, the Temple stands to remind us, as well as future generations, to have compassion for others as we continue to explore our dreams, follow our spirit, and search for answers in the hope of scaling new heights."
Cathy J. Schreima, The (Wapakoneta) Evening Ledger, April 7, 2001

I can't wait to go back.

NOTE: A big thanks to Mike "Rare Visions" Murphy for telling me about the Temple.


a nomination letter to The Ohio Historical Society




fall 2003 visit












philosopher, writer, teacher,
historian, geologist, and visionary Jim Bowsher




photo taken by a google bird



all photos copyright Lawrence Harris, except where noted


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