Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens in Chattooga County, Ga., has been named to a preservation group’s "Places in Peril" list.

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation included the late folk artist’s four-acre property on its fifth annual list, released Wednesday.

In a statement, the group said the list aims to raise awareness about Georgia’s significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy.

The late Mr. Finster’s gardens, packed with folk art items such as a 20-foot statue made of bicycle frames and his famous paintings of Coca-Cola bottles, have been featured on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" and in music videos and cover art for the groups R.E.M., Talking Heads and others.

Mr. Finster died in 2001.

The preservation group’s list cited damage to the fragile materials in the Mr. Finster’s art, located in the damp climate of a former swamp. Constant damage from the elements has harmed many of the dozen or so structures, according to the report.

Tommy Littleton, chairman of Paradise Gardens Park and Museum, called 2009 the "most successful year" for restoration efforts at the gardens. He has volunteer workdays and fundraisers planned for the spring, he said, including Finster Fest the first weekend in May.

Mr. Littleton said the attention gained by the list could be a "shot in the arm" for his efforts.

 

Chattanooga Times – Free Press