By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
Hyde Park native Walter S. Arnold visited The Hyde Park Historical Society (HPHS), 5529 S. Lake Park Ave., Sunday, Jan. 21, to talk about his work as a stone carver.
During the event, which was entitled Set in Stone, Arnold gave a presentation on his training and career in stone carving. He described his childhood fascination with stone carvings and what he saw as a child walking through Hyde Park neighborhoods growing up, according to an HPHS statement. Arnold also showed images of several of his pieces to attendees, including those located in Hyde Park.
Arnold said he found his vocation and began his apprenticeship under master stone carvers in Italy. And after his experience in Italy, he worked as a carver at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., which at the time was one of the only places in the United States where there was work available for multiple artisans.
In addition to sharing his experience, Arnold showed photographs to attendees of some of the gargoyles and grotesques he carved in the past, often working on scaffolds more than 100 feet above the ground.
After five years away from the city, Arnold said he returned to Chicago in 1985 and opened his own studio.
Early on, Hans Morsbach, owner of the Medici Restaurant in Hyde Park, commissioned Arnold to decorate the facade of the restaurant. In addition to his work at Medici, Arnold’s work can be seen at the University of Chicago Lab School gymnasium.
According to the Hyde Park Historical Society, Arnold specializes in creating carvings, fireplaces, fountains, architectural carvings and sculptures for private residences, institutions and commercial buildings throughout the United States and Canada.