Castle home to the arts

Castle home to the arts

Holiday show preview party Nov. 2

By Andrew Carter

Every community is home to at least one hidden gem.

A place that’s unique to that area, reflecting its heritage and culture.

In Delaware County, The Arts Castle is one of those local masterpieces.

“It really is (a hidden gem),” said Executive Director Diane Hodges. “A lot of people say, ‘Oh, yeah. I drive past that’ or ‘I know about it,’ but they don’t come in and see what we’re really all about.”

Built in 1854 by horticulturalist George W. Campbell, the home at 190 W. Winter St. in Delaware features Romanesque and Norman Revival style architecture. Constructed out of blue limestone mined from a nearby quarry, the structure has stood strong for more than 160 years.

Following Campbell’s death in 1898, the home was purchased by Dr. Aaron Lyon and Abbie Parish, who then donated it to Ohio Wesleyan University, their alma mater. The building was known as Lyon Art Hall for the 70 years that it was owned by the university.

The Delaware County Cultural Arts Center board of trustees then acquired the property and established The Arts Castle in 1989.

Since its founding, The Arts Castle has been the hub of cultural arts activities in Delaware County. A wide range of classes and programs is offered for all ages. The castle is also home to a dance academy where students can learn ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop and lyrical dance from trained professionals.

“We’ve got quarterly programming throughout the year — 80 classes every quarter that we offer,” said Hodges, who’s been executive director at the cultural arts center for six years. “There’s a real variety.”

Regular art exhibits featuring a diverse selection of mediums are on display throughout the year. The most recent exhibit was Equine Jubilee IV, a celebration of the horse in art. The display was a nod to The Little Brown Jug harness race that is run annually during the Delaware County Fair, as well as the All Horse Parade held each year in Delaware. Paintings, drawings, ceramics and sculptures of horses created by 30 different artists lined the interior of the castle during the two-month exhibit.

While The Arts Castle is a special place all year round, Hodges said it assumes a certain magical quality during the holiday season.

“We have gingerbread workshops and the dance academy is getting ready for the ‘Nutcracker’ ballet performance in December, and things like that,” Hodges said. “That really creates a real festive environment. It really is very special here. With the kids and the art exhibits we have here, and the different people coming in and enjoying the castle, it’s very special.”

The onset of the holidays also means an annual tradition at The Arts Castle is close at hand. Hodges said the castle has been hosting a holiday art show and sale for nearly three decades.

“This is the 27th year for Castle Arts Affair, so it’s been going on almost as long as the castle’s been around,” Hodges said.

This year’s event is called “Castle Arts Affair and More: Give the Gift of Art,” she said. It will be open for 10 days in November, beginning Nov. 2 with a preview party. Previously, the holiday showcase lasted just four days.

“We have 60 artists this year,” Hodges said. “We’ve downsized it this year. Typically, we have 90 to a hundred artists.”

Participating artists include local, regional and national talent, Hodges said, and a variety of mediums are on display.

“We’ll have jewelry, ceramics, paintings, drawings, fiber arts, stained glass, blown glass, cast metal; there’s a nice variety,” she said. “We’re going to have a good selection.”


190 W. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015


Office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; gallery shop hours are 1-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; gallery hours are 6-8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

• “Castle Arts Affair and More: Give the Gift of Art” show is Nov. 3-12, with a preview party from 6-9 p.m. Nov. 2.

Salt Magazine

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