ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Lucius Woods concerts bring music to the north woods

In 1992, long-term development to enhance the economics of Solon Springs was considered a priority as the new expressway was scheduled to bypass Solon Springs.

In 1992, long-term development to enhance the economics of Solon Springs was considered a priority as the new expressway was scheduled to bypass Solon Springs.

Community members, Solon Springs Development Commission, Douglas County and the Douglas County University of Wisconsin Extension joined forces to establish a plan.

One of the goals was to create an outdoor performing arts venue. Lucius Woods Park would be the perfect natural setting.

The park, located in the heart of the Village of Solon Springs, Wisconsin on the pristine shores of the Upper St. Croix Lake, is named in honor of Nicolas and Emma Swenson Lucius, who preserved the land and the environment during the early 1900s. Lucius Woods was a State Park for many years before Douglas County took it over in the early 1990s. The park is maintained by the Douglas County Forestry Department.

The names of Frank and Mary Giesen are synonymous with Lucius Woods Performing Arts Center. The couple was instrumental in building on their vision to create a venue to bring culture and entertainment to this lush green setting in the north woods. They had a dream of creating a mini-Ravinia, the renowned outdoor festival near Chicago.

ADVERTISEMENT

Assistance from Douglas County must not be understated. Members of the Douglas County Land and Forestry, Park and Recreation Committees and the staff of the Douglas County Forestry Department proved to be a critical link in obtaining the consent of the use of the park and providing the materials to build the shell.

The logs were harvested from the black forest of Wascott and inmates from the Gordon Correctional Facility and CEP (Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program) workers provided the labor to peel the bark of the giant red pines. The tamarack for the interior walls was selected for its sound resonating qualities.

The interior panels were placed in a bellow pattern to promote reverberation of sound to send it out across the landscape. The shell was positioned to the best advantage, as suggested by Taavo Virkhaus, the music director of the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, to utilize the natural amphitheater formed by the land's bowl shape.

While the presenting organization was being established, later to be incorporated and named Lucius Woods Performing Arts Center, Frank Giesen, as a representative of the Solon Springs Development Commission, raised money and solicited in-kind services and labor to construct the shell.

In July 2005, the shell was dedicated as the Giesen Concert Shell in honor of Frank and Mary Giesen.

Their inspiration, dedication and hard work were instrumental in bringing one of the community's finest treasures to fruition. Besides the Lucius Woods Performing Arts Center's Music in the Park concert series, the shell can be rented through the Forestry Department for other occasions such as weddings and performances.

What To Read Next