Recently I had a meeting with the Whirligig Park Project Repair & Conservation Headquarters. This is where they are refurbishing Vollis Simpson’s whiligigs for their inclusion in the future Whirligig Park.
Jenny Moore, the project manager, and other full-time employees spoke and gave us an insightful history of Vollis Simpson and his whirligigs. One thing that I found interesting was that the first whirligig Vollis made was a wind powered washing machine that he created while stationed as a fighter plane mechanic on the island of Saipan during World War II. But the present incarnation of the whirligigs first began in 1988 at his home in Lucama not long after he retired from his house-moving business. When I was an undergrad at UNC Wilmington in 1996 I remember students talking about visiting what they called Acid Park, a name that many people in Eastern North Carolina used when referring to the installations in Vollis’ yard. It was a popular attraction for the past 25 years, some fans even got married there.
The lead technician showed us the painstaking process involved in repairing and sometimes recreating Vollis’ gigantic (some of the largest, 55′, were anchored 8 feet into the ground with concrete at his Lucama home), articulated art pieces, while also keeping them consistent with his vision.
There are twenty large pieces and fifty smaller pieces that are being refurbished for possible installation. The first phase of the park went into effect in November 2013
From the website:
Designed by award-winning landscape architecture firm Lappas+Havener, PA, the two-acre park will feature 30 of Vollis Simpson’s whirligigs—including some of the largest in his life’s work.
Visitors will never be at a loss for something to do at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. A central lawn amphitheater faces a performance stage, where everything from music to poetry slams will engage audiences. The park shelter will host a Farmer’s Market, craft markets, educational programs, and family fun activities. The interactive water feature in the entrance plaza will keep the kids cool on sunny days. Benches will invite picnicking, reading, or just enjoying art and nature. Use a phone app or the printed brochure to tour the whirligigs, sustainable storm water structure, and native plant gardens. Practice Tai Chi, have a wedding or family reunion, play flashlight tag among the reflective whirligigs—the possibilities are endless!