'For a Smile': Schaefer's Auto Art brings joy to Erie kids, adults

Super-sized yard art a favorite Erie oddity

By Kara Murphy June 11, 2018

Like lawn art? Richard Schaefer does too.

He likes it so much he's built a giant spider out of an old VW bug, a bumblebee out of a cement mixer, and -- most recently -- the family has constructed an American flag made from 273 license plates from all 50 states. Richard collected all the old cars and parts over the years from his brother's salvage lot.

Richard Schaefer

See Schaefer's Auto Art between sunup and sundown daily at 3705 Hershey Road.
It's free to visit.
Parking is available in the pull-off area on the side of the road. Please do not park in their driveway.

The newest art, just installed in early June, is a flag made from 273 license plates from all 50 states.

"They're just things I put together for a smile," Schaefer says. "They're just things I saw laying around and thought 'I should make this,' so I did."

His first project was a two-faced Lincoln. He used to take it to parades, but hasn't driven it since he once got a ticket driving it around town.

His three daughters, Adele Wheeler, 28, Leanne Schaefer, 24, and Laura Schaefer, 21, grew up at the home famous for its unusually-sized lawn art. 

"It was pretty normal to us," Leanne says. "It was easy to tell people exactly where we lived. All we had to say was 'it's the house with the giant bumblebee.'"

Now that the girls are older, they have taken a renewed interest in their dad's unique hobby. It was their vision, for instance, to make the American flag, which stretches an impressive 21 feet by 9 feet. The sisters cleaned all 273 license plates, then zip tied them all together. 

It's not unusual for people to stop and gawk. The yard art has been featured in everything from Ripley's Believe It or Not to

Just a few weeks ago, a couple from Germany on their way across the country stopped in Erie just to see Schaefer's Auto Art, Richard says.

You can support Schaefer's Auto Art by buying a T-shirt on their website at

Want to see more?

Schaefer's Auto Art has a yard art competitor in the 700 block of Bartlett Road in Harborcreek (just down from Shades Beach). Stop by the yard there to see a super-sized T-rex family, a triceratops, a wooly mammoth, and other creatures.



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