A Unique Asset

Fort Wayne’s West Central Neighborhood is home to a castle – an actual one. That castle is home to Castle Gallery Fine Art.

“The building is a piece of art itself,” said Jody Hemphill Smith, co-founder and curator of the gallery.

Built as a private home in 1905, in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, the distinctive building housed the Fort Wayne Museum of Art from 1949 to 1983. It was converted to condominiums when the art museum moved downtown.

Then, 20 years ago, Smith and her husband, Mark Paul Smith, purchased the building and opened Castle Gallery. The couple are long-time advocates for the Fort Wayne community.

“We’re passionate about downtown, we’re passionate about this neighborhood, and we have been a part of it since 1970,” Smith said.

Shows at the gallery feature top artists from the local region and around the country. Smith is particularly proud of partnerships with American impressionist CW Mundy and architect Eric Kuhne, both products of Fort Wayne.

“This community is very rich artistically,” she said. “The artists that have come out of here with the art school that was here, IPFW, St. Francis, Indiana Tech…they are doing some wonderful things.”

Castle Gallery represents a unique combination of art, architecture, and history, making it an important asset in a growing community.

“There isn’t anything like this anyplace else,” Smith said. “We hear this daily: ‘What? This has been here all this time? Why am I just finding out about it?’ So Greater Fort Wayne [Inc.] is a way for us to come out too, to the community.”

As a new investor, Smith says she was drawn to GFW Inc. because the organization shares her enthusiasm for the history and artistic legacy of the region, and the ability to obtain greater visibility to local residents. She particularly appreciates the way GFW Inc. draws together people from different generations, and in all kinds of industries, advocating for a diverse, thriving community.

“It’s all contagious, we all need to work together and encourage each other.”

“We want to have people come to us and explore this historic neighborhood,” Smith said. “To enjoy the art that has come out of this neighborhood, and to realize the potential of the development of the whole downtown community.” 



Leave a Reply