Tucked away in the historic Mexican War Streets neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pa. is truly the happiest place I know. It sneaks up on you with unexpected surprise as you meander along treelined Arch Street and come to a corner filled with color, imagination and… yes, happiness.

This is Randyland, the creation of native Pittsburgher, Randy Gilson, a true master at making something worthless become something worthwhile.

In 1995, Randy purchased the dilapidated three -story property destined for demolition at auction for $10,000 without even knowing what the place would become. He says, “he followed his heart” and the grounds soon became a place for Randy’s creativity to shine. He recycled, reused and repurposed materials found in dumpsters and while cleaning up the neighborhood he also created a community garden and art project. His colorful folkart installation has been named “the most painted house in America” and is sure to make you smile.

The courtyard and garden at Randyland are open to the public there is a steady stream of visitors daily. The large “Welcome Wall” along the back fence of the courtyard boasts 140 painted signs saying “welcome“in 140 different languages. According to Randy, “Randyland is OUR-land- it is the love, the joy, the happiness, the understanding of all who enter her gates.” If you are lucky enough to visit while Randy is working in the garden, he will greet you personally, tell you his story of inspiration and invite you to explore. At every turn guests will see color and things, once trash, now objects of art. Randy’s mastery of turning waste into wonder is a true gift that encourages visitors to look at “things” in new ways. Guests will also see messages of hope, love and self-expression. He urges others to ask themselves, “why aren’t we watering, feeding and weeding our dreams? Randyland is a place for renewing, replanting, recreating, and reimaging what we can be.” Oh yes, and a place to forget the worries for a little while and be happy!

Plan Your Trip…

Randyland is FREE and open to the public daily from 1pm until dusk. There are places to sit and bring a snack, but Randy asks that you take your trash with you when you leave. There is a small welcome center with T-shirts, mugs and other small souvenirs for purchase. Donations are strongly encouraged and welcome in the donation box. All moneys are used for the purchase of paint and supplies for maintenance and future art projects. Coming this summer, a giant flower garden made from salvaged wood. Randy calls it his garden from the “land of the giants”! There is always something fun and new to see at Randyland… randy.land.com

Avatar
After retiring from teaching to raise two sons, Kim Adley created her 23-year old professional storytelling business, Characters by Kim. She also engages audiences in her new business, Passport to Pittsburgh, LLC, a custom tour company for Pittsburgh and beyond. Most recently, Kim is writing a children’s book series: “Passport to Pittsburgh for Kids”. She is also a staff columnist for “Inspiring Lives Magazine”.