September 9, 2020
Some sad news for local art lovers and fans of Jody Hemphill Smith and her husband Mark Paul Smith: The couple has decided to sell Castle Gallery, their professional and personal space for 25 years.
The Richardsonian-Romanesque building at 1202 W. Wayne St. in Fort Wayne has built a reputation for its diverse and exciting exhibits over the years, bringing in artists familiar with the Smiths’ own artistic reputations. But beyond the exhibits, the Smiths renovated and restored their castle in keeping with the surroundings of the West Central neighborhood, making it one of the places that made that area of the city so popular and beloved.
While it’s sad to think of them selling the gallery, built in 1905, it is completely understandable that they want to spend more time on their own artistic endeavors.
Each have contributed their own pieces to their exhibits, but they also have earned renown around the state and country, exhibiting their work in other galleries over the years.
For those who may be interested in buying the gallery, which served as the Fort Wayne Museum of Art from 1949-1983, the description includes “a grand staircase of hand-carved oak, inlaid hardwood floors, stained glass windows, pocket doors, rich hardwoods throughout, and Tiffany fireplaces have earned The Castle the moniker, ‘Gem of the Midwest.’ A hidden, third-floor staircase has been rebuilt with an assemblage of historic iron railing and posts. The top floor exposes massive oak beams, connected by hand-wrought ironwork. Its rooftop deck is nestled in the sprawling limbs of a 300-year-old Cottonwood tree. The fenced, backyard garden has stone walkways, a Koi pond, and a Wisteria-covered Pergola. It wraps around a heated and air conditioned four-car garage built of brick and stone, which has its own kitchen, bar and bathroom.”
Anyone who has seen Castle Gallery over the last quarter century can attest to the accuracy of that description,. Hopefully the new owners will be the same thoughtful stewards of the property that the Smiths have been.
Much love and luck to the pair, and thank you for all you’ve done to bring art to Fort Wayne.
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