Looking Back

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Photo courtesy of Eureka Springs

Historical Museum

The Castle at Inspiration Point on

Highway 62 West overlooking the White

River was a dream in the heart of a boy

growing up in the Rhine River Valley,

where one of Germany’s ancient castles

overlooked daily village life. He immigrated

to America about 1880 and found

his way to Texas to work in the oil fields.

Charles Mower first saw Eureka

Springs around 1900 while on a hunting

trip in the Ozarks, and remembered

a place reminiscent of his Rhineland

home. He made his fortune by an

ingenious idea for improvement to oil

well maintenance. Royalties from his

invention made him rich as he traveled

worldwide to demonstrate and sell his

‘oil well swabber,’ but he never forgot a

place in the Ozarks named ‘Valley View.’

In the 1920s, he purchased the place

and began to build his castle, its walls of

native stone set on a foundation of solid

rock.

Charles Mower spent $80,000

building his castle by 1929, but the great

market crash soon destroyed his fortune

and he had to put a halt to the work.

Little is known of Mower’s last years

as he drifted away, leaving behind his

unfinished dream.

In 1932, one of the country’s most

noted evangelists, Dr. Charles Reign

Scoville, purchased Charles Mower’s

castle, completed construction and

moved in, bringing a priceless collection

of antique furnishings and curios gathered

during a lifetime of world travel.

Scoville died in 1938.

After changing ownership several

times, the castle was purchased by Dr.

and Mrs. Vernon R. Baker in 1973. The

Bakers, without any financial backing,

researched and acquired all of the

furnishings for the castle, as well as

many displays on the grounds and in the

museum buildings.

Dr. Scoville gave Charles Mower’s

dream castle its lasting name — The

Castle at Inspiration Point — and provided

for its future to be a place where the

gifts and talents of thousands of young

people could be honed and polished —

and celebrated — in the annual music

workshops and performances of the

Inspiration Fine Arts Colony, where the

Opera of the Ozarks is now located. In

1950, Dr. Henry Hobart, former dean of

fine arts at Phillips University, was contacted

with regard to starting a summer

music camp on the grounds. With the

support of Gertrude Stockard, director of

music at Eureka Springs High School,

Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony came

into being during that summer. Now,

music resounds and the voices of young

people and their teachers ring out on a

wooded Ozark hilltop. Perhaps Charles

Mower’s dream that began more than a

century ago was also set to the sound of

music.— Stephanie Stodden, Museum

Operations Manager

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