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Local Talent | Artist Larry Mansker

A Portrait of Penn Castle, by Artist Larry Mansker

Here is Larry in front of Penn Castle built by Major in the Confederate Army, William E. Penn, in 1888. Some time later, he became a lawyer and a wildly successful evangelist. Penn traveled the country and world to preach, and his converts numbered in the thousands. Often referred to as The Texas Evangelist, William Penn combined his love for Nottingham and Hucknall Castles (in Merry'Ol''England) into his very own Penn Castle, here in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, USA.

He first built four back rooms as a simple cottage, then “as the Lord provided”, he was able to add the impressive three-story front part of the house, along with the Tiffany-style stained glass windows designed to show his call from God to the ministry.

Corilla Penn in front of Penn Castle, c.1900

He and his wife, Corilla, eventually bought the entire mountain top which spans from Penn Castle all the way from what is today the Gavioli Chapel and down Mountain Street to Penn Memorial Baptist Church, which was built in 1912 in honor of Major Penn.

Often known as Eureka's most historic Victorian home, Penn Castle, has as colorful a past as Eureka itself.

The home and its religious themed Tiffany stained glass windows in the parlor were featured on the HGTV program If Walls Could Talk. The home is built of limestone and boasts some of the most well preserved mill work of the time including ornate fireplace mantels and other unique architectural details.

Major William Evander Penn

After the death of both Major and Mrs. Penn, the house was only owned by a few other families. In the 1950’s, Gerald L.K. Smith, and his wife Elna, bought the house and made it their home. The Smith’s made some changes to the home, but were primarily occupied with the founding of The Great Passion Play, and the Elna M. Smith Foundation.

The impressive front portion of the castle includes a balcony that looks to the east. It is the only house on Eureka Street with a balcony facing that direction. That proved very important to Smith, as he bought the house sight unseen after being told about the balcony where he could watch the construction of his Christ of the Ozarks statue from home.

The new owners of Penn Castle asked Larry Masker to paint a portrait of Penn Castle and here's how he transformed this historic home into their work of art.

First, he and the current owners of Penn Castle collected photographs of the castle that were set in early evening in order to focus on the stunning stained glass windows of the Castle.

Next, there was a sketch created in order to further evolve the painting.

After several coats of under-painting to achieve the ideal tone for that time of day and then it was time to transfer the sketch. This is where Larry incorporates the major shapes and colors.

Note: under-painting is an initial layer of paint applied to a ground, which serves as a base for subsequent layers of paint. Under-paintings are often monochromatic and help to define color values for later painting. the last steps, Larry gets out his small brushes and details the painting .. .. .. like so.

The frame that was chosen is most apropos. An antique style frame compliments the antique style interior and exterior of the castle.

Penn Castle, seen here in these pictures taken in 2018, is still truly timeless in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

About Larry Mansker (from Fine Art America) :

"I have been making art for over seven decades. Primarily two dimensional paintings and drawings. My reason for making art was to tell a story. My story or help someone else tell their stories.

Galleries and books helped find homes for my personal stories. Advertising and public relations agencies as well as architects and designers helped find clients who needed their stories told. Sailing over the rolling waters with beautiful skies was fascinating to me in my California days. My book Sailing Impresions helped tell that story. The Forest Impressions Series' tells the story of living in the deep woods of the Ozark Mountains, my current home." More creations of Larry's art, made to tell his stories and the stories of others, can be seen on his web site -


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