Wichitans will have one more chance this holiday season to see the seven wonders of Francis Hilger. Tonight, the Wichita man's intricately designed cathedrals and castles will be on display at Rock Island Studios, as part of the Final Friday gallery crawl. Here are more details:
1) Hilger got into the hobby of building cathedrals and castles to scale back in the '60s, when his daughter — local TV personality Dana Fleming — asked him to build her a dollhouse. It took him three and a half years and turned into a work of art that the young girl never got to play with.
2) In the 40-plus years since then, Hilger, now 90, has built plaster-of-paris models of such exquisite structures as Church of the Holy Family in Barcelona, Spain; the Cathedral of Zacatecas in Zacatecas, Mexico; Reims Cathedral in Paris; Cinderella's Castle from Disney's Magic Kingdom; and St. Mary's Cathedral in downtown Wichita.
3) Each of the models took an average of five years to build ; Hilger estimates he has spent 25,000 hours on his passion.
4) Hilger will be on hand from 6 to 8 p.m. today and Saturday at Rock Island Studios, 338 N. Mead, to talk to visitors. There will also be a visual presentation showing the real cathedrals. People also can visit the studio during the day Saturday and Sunday to see the cathedrals.