Pike County has a place where artists and art lovers may enjoy beautiful works by others known throughout the world. These works can be found in the Lay Center for Education and the Arts, located on Route UU about five miles outside of Louisiana.
The center includes a place to walk, view a multitude of sculptures, stay overnight, hold meetings, dine, and investigate the 350-acre property complete with five miles of walking trails.
The Lay Center provides sleeping accommodations for up to 48 guests. The 12 bedrooms are equipped with dressers, reading lamps, coat racks and desks. Showers and restrooms are conveniently located near all rooms.
It can be booked for receptions, retreats or other events.
The grounds are a nature lover’s dream. There are several open fields and two lakes.
The Henry Lay Sculpture Park is set on approximately 20 acres in the middle of the 350 acres of meadows, wooded rolling hills, lakes and streams with a gravel path trail winding through it.
The walk begins at the edge of the parking lot and starts with a gradual incline easily taken by young and old alike. There are benches for resting and the bulk of the trail is on relatively flat land. Wheelchair access is possible, but it could prove tricky after a rain without a helper.
Sculptures from world-renowned artists include “Sun and Moon” by Bing Cheng of Beijing, China. The two figures are beautifully done with strong muscular accents.
In contrast, “Dance” by Bob and Jo Wilfong of the United States is a sweeping metal sculpture using circluar elements to accentuate a couple enthralled in artistic movement on the side of the lake.
“Last Procession” by Devin Laurence Field, of Portland, Ore., conjures images of an imperial Chinese dynasty.
“Wolves” by New York-based Wendy Kelmperer takes the path around several skeletal-type wolves that are simply breathtaking.
Visitors to the Henry Lay Sculpture Park also may visit the Story Woods, a place marked by the sculpture Emilie, the story keeper and her garden of books. Story Woods was created by a collaboration between artists Michele vandenHeuvel and Henry Lay.
John McElwee, a Revolutionary War hero, and his wife, Rhonda Black, first settled this farm property in 1832. McElwee and his 12 grandchildren are buried on the property in the McElwee-Stewart-Carr Cemetery.
Henry Anthony Lay (April 11, 1941-Oct. 5, 2000) an alumnus of Saint Louis University School of Law, purchased the property in May 1996. Lay’s generous support of the University through donations and scholarships has enabled hundreds of young people to further their quest for knowledge and improve themselves through education.
The Lay Center for Education and the Arts is the culmination of Henry Lay’s dream of establishing a place where literature and art are combined with the beauty of nature to stimulate learning and imagination.