Fun Spot: Vollis Simpson’s Whirligigs in North Carolina

Vollis Simpson's Whirligigs, North Carolina© 2009 Bill Russ/North Carolina Department of Commerce. Division of Tourism, Film & Sports DevelopmentColor and movement catch the visitor's eye.

Wiggins Mill Rd., Lucama, North Carolina

Anyone who has enjoyed a toy pinwheel spinning in the breeze will be blown away by the whirligigs of Windmill Farm—huge spinning, turning works of art and engineering created by Vollis Simpson, a machinist who once designed and made equipment to move houses and farm buildings. When he retired in the 1980s, Vollis began constructing wind-powered whirligigs, making use of his house-moving machinery and old industrial materials. More than 30 large-scale sculptural towers, a few mechanically powered but most driven by the wind, stand on his rural property. The whirligig structures emphasize motion and sound as works of art, and each are covered by paint and reflectors, making them a spectacular sight both day and night.

His constructions have been exhibited by Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, the Baltimore Visionary Art Museum, and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. Four 40-foot whirligigs commissioned for the 1996 Olympics are now permanent fixtures in Atlanta.

The Lucama community, located about seven miles southwest of Wilson, is accessible from I-95 or Hwy. 301. Wilson, too, is worth a stop. The historic downtown area features whirligigs on its corners, and a park dedicated to Vollis Simpson will soon have a total of 12 whirligigs on display.

(800) 497-7398 Wilson Visitors Bureau

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