Five miles south of Baraboo, Wis., across the highway from an abandoned ammunition plant, lie the larger-than-life sculptures of Dr. Evermor, a visionary Machine Age inventor who is the alter ego of retired salvage dealer Tom Every. I spoke with Every, who, despite being 70 and in a wheelchair, is still adding to the collection.
Buzz Moran: How did this work begin?
Dr. Evermor: It came out of a time of duress in my life, when I was unhappy. I built the Forevertron [the central sculpture] to get me the hell away from this planet. I’ll climb inside that glass ball at the top, shoot it at the heavens, and make it back to the Lord on a magnetic lightning force beam.
I looked around at what I had to work with, and zam-zam, that’s how it evolved. I started with a giant autoclave from the Apollo missions that weighed 32,000 pounds. Later I got ahold of some actual bipolar dynamos that Mr. Edison made, from the Ford museum, and stuck those in there.
Then I had to put a big 40-foot telescope nearby, so any doubting Thomases could see if the damn fool made it or not. Using the 1890s as a time frame, I added an elevated teahouse where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert would have sat and witnessed the launch. My family is all from England.
Another machine is the Graviton. When you’re getting ready to go up and you’re burly like me, you stand in that and bzzzt, it dewaters you to get you down to the right weight. That piece was an old X-ray machine. I also added an overlord master control tower, which I got up about 42 feet. I’d like to finish that up before I check out, you know?
And then, oh, we’ve got to have a symphony out here. So I built a 70-piece bird band. You just keep adding things …
BM: Your pieces often look like Victorian machines that were built for a specific purpose.
DE: I don’t impose any kind of historic integrity to the forms. I just keep the energy flowing. I’ll move pieces of whatever it might be, and they’ll say, “You look plenty good to me, honey. Would you like to be next to me for the rest of your life?” So I’ll put a little spot weld down there, and who’s getting married to whom, you know? That’s the way you’ve got to look at it, with that kind of humor.
BM: What are your current plans for the park?
DE: I’d like to just figure out where to set it down before I check out. I’d give the sculptures to anyone who would preserve them. There’s no mortgages, no banks, no governments involved in the damn thing, so just plunk it over there, and if somebody puts a meter on it and makes a lot of money, that’s fine. If you’ve got any suggestions I’m open to hearing ’em!
See more photos at makezine.com/15/evermore.