Founded in 1971, the National Presidential Wax Museum, formely known as the Parade of Presidents, is one of the most prestigious attractions in the Black Hills. Combining the talents of Kathryn Stubergh Keller, a third generation wax sculptor, with the accomplished set design artists Don and Bonnie McPhee, the team cultivated blue prints for each design through extensive research and planning. Averaging three months per wax figure, life begins with a piece of clay. Heads are cast into molds, and human hair is added. Medical glass eyes are obtained from Germany, a country long famous for supremacy in optical glass and porcelain teeth lend the crowning touch to the wax heads. The period clothing is made by the Hollywood Costume Co., modern dress and accessories are purchased from Terry King Clothing of LA and from local businesses. Henry Alvaraz, a prodigy of Katherine, created the more recent figures of George Bush, Al Gore, Jackie Kennedy and fireman Bob Beckwith.
In 2001, KCJ Development became the proud new owners of the Parade of Presidents Wax Museum. The museum had been closed for several seasons between owners, so after some renovations, the museum was reopened with new owners, a new name, The National Presidential Wax Museum, and a new look. Grapes and Grinds and the Holy Terror Mini Golf Course are nearby to offer FUN, FOOD and EDUCATION all in one location.
Breathing life into wax, Kathryn Stuberg-Keller is regarded in the art of wax as one of the finest wax artists who ever lived. Producing over 700 life-size wax figures throughout North America, several of her renditions in wax remain unmatched, notably her figure of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States.
In the decade of the 1960's Kathryn and her husband Tom produced a number of wax figures of Lincoln for various museums. As a third generation wax artist, Kathryn's mother and grandfather preceded her in the industry. Ms. Stuberg-Keller died in 1996 leaving a legacy of wax sculptures throughout the United States and Canada.