The symbol of the city of love has made its way to Minnesota because of a man’s deep love for his wife. Arnie Lillo created a 43½-foot steel sculpture replica of the Eiffel Tower for his wife, Janice. She was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer in February 2014.

“I wanted to do something really nice and exceptional for my wife,” Lillo said.

As Janice battles cancer, she can gaze out the window at the smaller version of the Paris landmark that expresses her husband’s love and honors her French ancestry.

The Lillos own a 13-acre hobby farm in Good Thunder, Minn., which is south of Mankato.

Arnie Lillo enjoys creating pieces of art with steel and draws 1,000 visitors to his farm and Jesse James Theme Park every year. Many of the spectators come out to enjoy his work on bus tours.

“When I do something, I like it to be a challenge,” he said. “... Easy stuff I don’t care for.”

Right now, Arnie Lillo is working on a weather vane to put on top of the Eiffel Tower replica.

He found his wife’s ancestors’ family crest and he will put that image on the weather vane and place it on the tower. His work will then stand close to 45 feet.

Janice and Arnie have been married for 57 years. Arnie says Janice has never said much about the 155 steel ornaments in their yard, but she did have something to say about his tribute to her.

“The only thing she really said is it’s unbelievable.”


Vineeta Sawkar