Designer returns to celebrate 25th anniversary of Wilson Park castle

BY KATE WARD, Northwest Arkansas Times
Posted on Sunday, September 18, 2005

The castle in Wilson Park is a place where many children forget about television and video games. It's a place where imaginations run wild and creativity thrives.

Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of the structure, formally known as Point 7 Castle. The event coincided with the 2nd Annual Art in the Park. Frank William, who designed the castle, attended the celebration to commemorate his work of art.

Williams' tenure in Fayetteville began in October 1977 at the age of 30. He had been making art his entire life. In the fall of 1978, he was accepted by the Arkansas Arts Council as one the first nine artists to participate in the Crafts Apprentice Program. It was largely funded by the Civil Education and Training Administration and became known as the Arts and Crafts Apprentice Program. Williams said the program was designed to teach youth skills for future employment.

At the beginning of 1979, the Arts Council devised a broader plan and implemented a competition for the realization of public works to be installed in various location across the state. Wilson Park was the first. "I was fortunate to win one of the positions for a design of a grotto to be constructed in a wooded area just west of where Point 7 Castle stands today," he said. "However, in late April, the parks board met with me and thought it would be more appropriate to enhance the existing springhouse on what would be the future site of the castle."

Williams said the springhouse was an eyesore and the stream coming from it was choked with weeds. He had less than two weeks to come up with an alternative design. "The existing concrete structure over the spring was reminiscent of a small play fort," Williams said. "It was used by the local kids for just that purpose and I thought what better solution to this challenge than a fantasy play castle sculpture garden?"

At the time, Williams said the city had many budget concerns and was unable to guarantee any maintenance for the project other than cutting the grass. "I felt that to the best of my ability, I would build something durable, but in faux decay," he said. "New, but reflecting antiquity, and hopefully it would be miraculously enhanced by wear, tear and vandalism as it reverted to nature."

During the first week of June 1979, Williams and five apprentices broke ground. In July 20, 1980, the castle was finally completed. "It became very popular immediately," he said. "We couldn't keep the kids off it, even before construction was completed."

Public address delivered 17 September, 2005 for 25th anniversary celebration


Northwest Arkansas Times:
Artist Frank Williams recalls construction of Wilson Park Castle, BY SARAH K. TERRY
The Morning News:
Artist, Community Celebrate 'Point 7', BY AMY M. COTHAM

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