Mary must be pleased: Local group buys Durward’s Glen to preserve this ‘holy place’ Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, May. 12, 2011 -- 12:00 AM

Editor's View by Mary C. UhlerWisconsin glaciers formed the 35-acre valley in which Durward’s Glen is located in the beautiful Baraboo Bluffs near Devil’s Lake State Park. The valley has a natural spring creek and miniature canyon.

The area used to be owned by the Durward family, who came there in 1862. They have been described as a spiritual family of poets, priests, artists, builders, and writers.

Guardian of the Glen

The family erected a statue of Mary, called “Guardian of the Glen,” as well as the Hermitage and Glen Studio. Their historic home was accidentally burned to the ground in 1951.

It seems that Mary has continued to guard Durward’s Glen throughout the years. Mary Techla Durward, youngest living member of the Durward family at the time, gave the Glen to the Order of St. Camillus in September of 1932. She stipulated that it remain a Catholic institution.

The Camillians owned Durward’s Glen for 70 years. They added a log building which includes the Immaculate Conception chapel, monastery, and private rooms. Originally, it served as the novitiate of the St. Camillus order. In 1956, the Camillians added the south wing, new novitiate quarters.

The east wing has private rooms, a library, community room, and Durward Hall with kitchen facilities at the ground level. The hall is ideal for parties, family gatherings, and wedding receptions.

An active St. Camillus Parish existed from 1946 to 2006.

Sale of Durward’s Glen

When the Order of St. Camillus decided to sell the Glen in 2007, local investors raised $600,000. Magdalen College in New Hampshire bought Durward’s Glen.

In 2009, a new Mary, Mother of God Grotto was built at Durward’s Glen by volunteers and funded by sponsor Leo Blau on the site of the former Durward home. Eight loads of limestone from St. Raphael Cathedral in Madison, destroyed by fire in 2005, were used to create the shrine. The shrine has become the most visited place at Durward’s Glen.

Although it was owned by the college, many volunteers kept Durward’s Glen going during the past four years. When the college decided to sell Durward’s Glen last year, volunteers sought support to buy it. As of April 28, a local non-profit group, Durward’s Glen Our Lady of the Rosary Group (OLRG) Ltd., succeeded in purchasing the Glen.

On Saturday, May 14, a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house from 2 to 4 p.m. will celebrate the fact that this 150-year-old Catholic retreat center will be preserved and thrive in the years to come as its first owners intended.

People are invited to stop at Durward’s Glen this Saturday. The new owners are conducting a memorial brick campaign to help support the Glen. Volunteers are also welcome to help on a regular basis to maintain this historic religious treasure in our diocese. Call 608-356-8113 or 608-566-6211 to see how you can help.

Since May is Mary’s month, we know she is smiling on Durward’s Glen. She is continuing to guard it to keep it in a “holy state” as founder Bernard Durward intended.