Lucama, North Carolina: Vollis Simpson's WhirligigsThe great wind-animated sculptures of Vollis Simpson, made of scrap metal and festooned with bicycle reflectors. Some stand 40 feet tall. Most will be moved to a park in nearby Wilson in late 2013.
Visitor Tips and News About Vollis Simpson's Whirligigs
My girlfriend Diane and I drove over the day after Thanksgiving and Mr. Simpson was at the shop. We toured the shop and had a nice long conversation.
Mr Simpson had a very bad accident and was severely burned as well as losing his front teeth in the hard fall. He declined to go through skin grafts and does exercises daily to keep the scar tissue flexible. He told of a trip to the American Visionary Art Museum where he has a large piece on display (that unfortunately needs some repair) where he got to sit with the MC, a gal named Madonna!
His shop is full of indoor pieces for sale, more windmills then whirligigs as they don't have moving art work as well as some interesting anatomically complete dogs and goats made from hardware. Diane and I each bought a signed piece. Given the discomfort he appeared to be in, I did not ask him to walk from the shop to open the gate. At least eight other visitors stopped by while we were there.[Ron, 12/06/2008]
I visited Vollis Simpson's Whirligigs last week. Like the other recent visitor mentioned, things are overgrown on the outside, but I kind of liked the feel of an overgrown ruin. Keep Out signs and barbed wire ringed the place, but I saw an old man nearby who I assume was Vollis Simpson. I asked him if I could walk around and take pictures. His response was "The gate is open." I took this to mean that if the gate is open you are free to walk around, which I did. It is a truly amazing place - especially from the inside.[Matt, 07/25/2008]
Agreed -- we don't mind the overgrowth, as long as Vollis is still building whirligigs nearby. If he doesn't have time to walk over to the gate with you, he usually gives a nod for respectful visitors to self-tour.
We took our first trip to see Vollis Simpson's Whirligigs. We were able to find Simpson's place with no problem, but it is pretty much overgrown with vines. We got out of the van and looked around as much as we could, although we were unable to gain access inside the gate. The work and pride this man put in to his whirligigs should be more appreciated than letting his legacy get covered by vines and weeds.
I would think the townspeople of Lucama would want to see his art displayed for visitor's to enjoy. Maybe some volunteers or the Boy Scouts could help clean up his wonderful whirligigs.[W Fries, 07/17/2008]
Along with my wife and daughter-in-law, I took my first trip to Vollis Simpson's whirly-gig farm. We parked across the road from the place, and noticed a couple in a car across from us. Thinking they were just other sight-seers, I asked "Is this your first time here?" The lady answered "We own the property here." It was Vollis Simpson and his wife, Jean. They indicated that they had just come by to look over the property. Vollis had bandages on a number of his fingers, and said he was just recuperating from a bad burn on his back and chest, caused by molten metal falling down his back and being caught between his flannel shirt and his skin. The burns on his fingers came from trying to pull the metal away from his skin.
He and his wife were very friendly and polite, and Vollis invited us to come back in a few weeks when he would be back at work, and he would give us a tour around the site. Vollis is nearing 86 now. We didn't see any wrecked car there. We have lived in eastern North Carolina for 30 years, and would have continued to remain unaware of the whirligig farm except for the Roadsideamerica.com listing and directions.[Jerry Jones, 01/03/2005]
I live in Lucama and it is quite ridiculous, the stories of "acid park," that you hear. First of all, the only daughter Mr. Simpson has lives right down the street from the whirligigs. He didn't have a daughter get killed 40 years ago. He is just a very talented man who likes to build interesting and constructive wind mills with his time. Sorry to ruin the story for everyone.[mandy, 12/19/2004]