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James R. Bowsher
and the Temple of Tolerance

Right click any image to enlarge.

James R. Bowsher

Jim is an archeologist, geologist, historian, folklorist, collector, storyteller, writer & "Master of the Temple of Tolerance." His eclectic interests appeared at a very early age. A former teacher was asked what Jim was like in school. She replied, "I donít know. I never got to see him because he was like a hummingbird." He says that, at age 7, he heard that the oldest Civil War veteran was hospitalized in Toledo (93 road miles from Wapakoneta) and persuaded his father to take him to visit (and make a tape recording now in the Library of Congress). Jim makes his living telling stories to schools, civic clubs, and prisons, usually illustrating his points with artifacts from his extensive collections. He talks with equal ease about Native Americans, the Civil War, the Klu Klux Klan, the Holocaust, and the atomic bomb. His wife is Japanese. Having completed the Temple of Tolerance (and willed it to the city of Wapakoneta), he says his current task is to set to paper a series of 30 books which he's written in his head. He has no computer or email. These photos were taken in his home on August 24, 2011, as Jim related one story after another to 3 visitors.

Wapakoneta, Ohio (USA)

The Native Americans of Wapakoneta adopted the agricultural methods that missionaries from the Society of Friends introduced to them after 1811. And they built the first sawmill & gristmill in northwest Ohio. But the US government forced them to leave in 1831, as part of Indian Removal to lands west of the Mississippi River. European-American settlers quickly replaced the native population. Wapakoneta is a center of corn-belt agriculture. Its population in the 2000 census was 9,474. Astronaut Neil Armstrong was born here in 1930, and the town's biggest "attraction" is the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum. Wapakoneta is a sister city to Lengerich, North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany). Jim Bowsher has lived in Wapakoneta all of his life.


Images show a highway leading to Wapakoneta, a downtown street, the Catholic church, two schools & the Niel Armstrong Air & Space Museum.

Jim's House at 203 South Wood Street

Jim was born here in 1948 and has lived here ever since. The small front yard contains a cannon and mill stones and is overgrown with vegetation but otherwise indistinguishable from its neighbors on a typical midwestern street. Inside, the house is crammed floor to ceiling with Jim's collections. One visitor called it "a Grand Central Terminal for the Underground Railroad, an invisible library of unwritten books on Freemasons, Harry Houdini, and Neil Armstrong." I told Jim that the only place I'd ever seen which is similar is Sir John Soane's Museum in London (England). Jim's phone number is 419-738-4474. He has no email or website.



The last three images were made before I knew I'd be welcome inside Jim's home. His two-car garage has long since become a cluttered office. The two documents are Scotch taped to garage windows so that visitors to the Temple of Tolerance may read them.

Temple of Tolerance

The glaciers which made Wapakoneta's flat farmland also deposited erratic boulders from many parts of Canada. In 1981, Jim started collecting these (using a WW-II surplus dumptruck) and arranging them into piles in his backyard, along with architectural elements which Jim scoured from demolitions (e.g. fences and gates from Cincinnati). As the piles grew, Jim acquired the backyards of his neighbors, creating a sizable garden which is not on any street. In recognition of his greatest value, Jim named the largest pile the Temple of Tolerance "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." It is surrounded by a Vietnam War memorial, a stage for performances, a Tree of Life, boundary markers from a Shawnee Indian reservation, slab steps from a Klan meetinghouse, stone dragons from Ireland, a huge wooden barrel, fragments from the first baseball park in Cincinnati, the marble countertop from a bank robbed by John Dillinger, garden paths, and many other constructions which might be called follies or visionary art. Jim said that he completed building the Temple and adjacent monuments on 9/1/1999.


First image shows gate from the back alley (only entrance except through Jim's house). Images 3-5 are the Temple of Tolerance.

Five YouTube Videos

Click here for a slide show of "porage night" at the Temple of Tolerance (set to music of John Lennon). Click here for 11 minutes at the temple on a sunny day. Click here for 5 minutes of the temple in the snow. Don't miss clicking to see and hear Bowsher explain why he believes in innate goodness. And click here for his "story of rivets" from World War II in Germany.
Use Google to find other videos.

The Temple of Tolerance as it appears on other web pages of this website

The other pages include 1981, State of Ohio, peace gardens, peace stones, and tolerance.
Jim Bowsher is also one of nearly 800 peacemakers listed in birth order on my peacemakers web page.

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1981 - Temple of Tolerance, 203 South Wood Street, Wapakoneta, Ohio (USA). "I've seen many amazing visionary art sites, but none quite like the one James R. (Jim) Bowsher has created. His home is an incredible museum -- a Grand Central Terminal for the Underground Railroad, an invisible library of unwritten books on Freemasons, Harry Houdini & and Neil Armstrong. Over several backyards are massive glacial boulders forming the central monument dedicated to tolerance, a stage for summer music performances, a Vietnam War memorial, and a Tree of Life. 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, Wapakoneta Evening Ledger, April 7, 2001.] /// Bowsher's temple is further described & illustrated on NarrowLarry's World of the Outstanding & RareVisions Road Trip.com. For YouTube videos of the temple, click here for 11 minutes on a sunny day, and click here for 5 minutes in the snow. Also click to see Bowsher explaining why he believes in innate goodness and telling the story of rivets.

Please email your comments & questions to geovisual @ comcast.net. Thank you.

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