Quigley’s Castle – An Arkansas folk art environment built to last

Quigley’s Castle – Elise Quigley

1910-1984
Eureka Springs, AR
Environment with rocks

My grandmother’s maiden name was Elise Fiovanti.  She was Italian. She came to the Ozarks when she was nine.  She loved the outdoors and began to collect rocks as she walked along a creek bed to school. When she was 18 during the depression, she married my grandfather, Albert Quigley.  He was the type of fellow who brought her rock collection with them to the site of his farm and lumber mill. They lived in a lumber shack and had five children.

My grandfather promised her a house with the lumber cut off their own property. In 1943 she designed a house that would allow her to bring nature indoors. It would be her dream house. The lumber was cut and drying in a long chicken house below the shack. However, WWII was going on, and supplies were rationed. My grandfather thought they should wait to build the house, especially as the design called for 32 large windows, and glass was rationed.  They argued about it for several months.

In June, when my grandfather left for the mill, grandmother and the five children, three of them teenage boys, tore the lumber shack down.  She moved them into the chicken house. That is where my grandfather found he was living when he came home that evening and where they lived while he, the sons, and a great uncle built “the castle.” They were able to move into the wooden structure by that winter, but it took three more years before the war was over and they were able to get the 32 window spaces called for in the unique design. My grandmother used the three years to cover the outside walls of her new home with her rock collection.

This was her home and passion for another 50 years as she continued to collect and surround herself with the nature she loved. My grandfather and she were very compatible; he took her everywhere she went to collect, as she couldn’t drive. He continued to make a living with the farm and lumber mill until he passed away in 1972, at the age of 66. Elise Quigley died at the age of 74 in 1984. My husband and I and our two children still live in the house and take care of it.

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(Excerpted from Quigley’s Castle websitePhotos © copyright 2006-2013 Kelly Ludwig, all rights reserved)

Bibliography & Links:

“Rare Visions & Roadside Revelations” (the book), by Randy Mason, Michael Murphy and Don Mayberger, Kansas City Star Publishing, 2002.

“Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations Coast to Coast Travel-o-Pedia” by Randy Mason, et. al., Kansas City Star Books, 2009.

On DVD – Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, “Miles and Miles o’ Mo-Tex-Arkana”, KCPT, Kansas City Public Television, 1996-2001.

“Self-Made Worlds: Visionary Environments” by Roger Manley and Mark Sloan, Aperture, New York, 1997.