• 16 May 2020 1:13 PM | Anonymous

    A stunning horse sculpture is now greeting visitors at the Curran Apple Orchard Park in University Place while providing them with a glimpse of local history.   UP for Arts, a nonprofit volunteer arts group, commissioned Artist John Jewell to create the sculpture entitled “Forever Friends,” to celebrate the Curran Apple Orchard’s 25th anniversary as a community park.

    “The life-size bronze sculpture of a young girl offering an apple to a horse represents the deep connection between our rural past and our hope for the future,” said UP for Arts Membership Chair Bunny Nance.  “It not only triggers memories of the early days in University Place but looks forward to the new memories yet to be made.”

    Created in the early 1950s by Charles and Mary Curran, the orchard has played a pivotal role in bringing the community together.   Many residents have fond memories of visiting the orchard for apples and cider.

    The Curran’s horses, Brewster and Christopher, were also quite popular, accepting apples from visitors and occasionally giving them rides.

    During the early 1990s, developers approached the Currans about selling their land for housing.

    The community rallied to obtain a Pierce County Conservation Futures grant to preserve the orchard as a park along with purchasing the house.  After incorporation, the City took over the park with assistance from the CORE volunteer group.

    “The orchard has continued to bring our community together through various activities such as the Adopt-A-Tree program, summer concerts, school tours and annual Cider Squeeze,” said UP for Arts Vice President and CORE member Debbie Klosowski.  In recognition of the orchard’s 25th anniversary as a community park, UP for Arts thought it was fitting to commission a sculpture to honor the orchard’s ongoing legacy to our community.

    After several years of fundraising and grant writing, UP for Arts reached its $134,000 goal  to acquire the artwork which is being donated to the City.    

    “This incredible artwork was actually inspired by a real horse named Brewster who lived in the orchard,” said UP for Arts President Debbie Scoles.  The young girl feeding him an apple (modeled by Annie Stafki, the artist’s granddaughter), symbolizes the many friendships that have been formed at the orchard.  

    Brewster, a great grandson of racing icon Man o’War, was bred with the hopes of becoming a race horse.  Right before his first race, Brewster came down with a serious illness and wasn’t expected to live.  The Currans couldn’t bear to put him down…instead they brought him home, hand fed him and Brewster survived!  Although his racing career was over, Brewster and his brother Christopher lived happily at the orchard for many years, delighting countless visitors.

    In order to bring Brewster to life, UP for Arts contacted accomplished sculptor John Jewell who also created the group’s first donated artwork—the “Sharing” statue located in Cirque Bridgeport Park.

    Jewell spent months researching thoroughbred race horses and old photos of Brewster to ensure the accuracy of the sculpture assisted by equine consultant Robin Peterson.  After developing the initial design, Jewell worked with Firebird Bronze Foundry to create the final artwork.  Jewell’s passion for the project and attention to detail was also noted by the foundry’s owner who indicated the artwork was one of the strongest emotional pieces they had ever worked on, Nance said.  

    “During the process of creating “Forever Friends,” I kept in mind University Place citizens’ unique connections to each other,” Jewell said.  “There is a spirit here of achieving a beautiful, living community that includes giving, sharing and caring for each other.  These values are conveyed in the offering of the apple and the exchange of full expressions between the girl and the large horse.  Youth and age, reaching out with trust and seeing each other in a moment of time are all part of this sculpture.  The effects of the wind on “Forever Friends” represent continual and diverse changes bringing us closer together in new ways.”

    Although the official dedication for “Forever Friends” has been delayed due to Covid 19 concerns, people can visit the sculpture which is visible from Grandview Drive near the central gate.

    “This beautiful sculpture will invite people into the orchard to enjoy a really special place as well as providing a glimpse of what University Place looked like before we became a city,” Scoles said. 

    UP for Arts would like to thank the countless individuals and groups for their assistance with this project including:

    Grants from the Taxpayers of WA State, the Gottfried & Mary Fuchs Foundation and the Florence B. Kilworth Foundation, Sound Community Bank, New Tacoma Cemeteries & Funeral Home, Team Insurance, GFWC Chambers Bay Women’s Club, McPhee Dental Group and more than 120 individual donors. 

    Others providing invaluable assistance include:  Model Annie Stafki, Mary Jane Dubbs, United Church of University Place, University Place Presbyterian Church, Mt Cross Lutheran, Dale Kvamme, UP Police Chief Greg Premo and former UP Police Chief Mike Blair, West Pierce Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Adams along with Lance Nelson and Todd Rhody, State Senator Steve O’Ban, State Representatives Christine Kilduff and Mari Leavitt, former state representative Dick Muri, the University Place Library, City of University Place, Anthem Coffee, local artists  and countless other volunteers.  Also special thanks to Firebird Bronze Foundry, Thompson Electrical Constructors, Concrete Impressions, Inc, Campanoli Crane Service and Winsor Fireform Graphic Tiles.  

    The Forever Friends sculpture is the latest in a line of several major artworks donated by UP for Arts to the City of University Place.  Other major donations include the Grand Piano and the Beyond Sea and Sky hanging glass sculpture in the atrium; One Step Ahead Duck statue in Market Square and The Eagles’ Nest in the 40th Street roundabout.  UP for Arts is also the proud sponsor of the Spring and Fall Arts & Concert Series which features outstanding visual and performing artists. 

    For more information about “Forever Friends” sculpture in the orchard or UP for Arts, please visit www.upforarts.org.

    Bring  “Forever Friends” Home

    People can also bring “Forever  Friends” into their homes by purchasing a miniature bronze replica directly from the artist for $3,500 plus tax.  The base is approximately 22” by 7” by 1” .  On top of the base is Brewster the horse (10.5” to the withers) accompanied by the young girl.  The bronze maquette is perfect for displaying on tabletops.  For more information, contact John Jewell at johnjewell00@gmail.com or leave a message at 253-884-4239.

  • 08 May 2019 2:48 PM | Anonymous

    An inquisitive horse accepting an apple from a young girl greeted visitors at the Firebird Bronze Foundry in Oregon during an UP for Arts trip earlier this year.

    Noted Artist John Jewell joined UP for Arts members along with University Place Mayor Pro Tem Caroline Belleci, UP Councilwoman Denise McCluskey and Catherine Hagen (daughter of Mary and Charles Curran) at the foundry to view the progress on “Forever Friends,” a life-size sculpture celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Curran Apple Orchard Park in University Place.

    An 8-foot long clay horse greeted the visitors, stretching out his neck, encouraged by a young girl offering him a delectable apple.  Jewell’s incredible attention to detail was evident in the inquisitive eyes of the horse and detailed anatomy as well as the joy-filled offering of the young girl. Barely choking back tears, Hagen remarked “it looks just like Brewster.” 

    “Forever Friends” is based upon a real horse named Brewster who lived in the Curran Apple Orchard.  Brewster, a great grandson of racing legend Man o’ War, was raised by Charles Curran who was interested in racing.  Right before his first race, Brewster came down with a serious respiratory virus and wasn’t expected to live.  The Currans couldn’t bear to put him down so they brought him home to the orchard and nursed Brewster back to health.  Although Brewster’s racing career was over, he lived to be 34 years old and soon became a beloved community member and favorite of people who visited the orchard. 

    UP for Arts commissioned the “Forever Friends” sculpture in honor of the orchard’s 25th anniversary and selected noted local sculptor John Jewell to create the artwork.

    “Brewster is a symbol of our community’s rural, agricultural history,” said UP for Arts member Bunny Nance.  “The sculpture symbolizes a connection between our past and our future.  The young girl (modeled by Jewell’s granddaughter) personifies the orchard’s role in developing friendships along with strengthening community ties through the various activities that the orchard continues to promote.”

    To date, UP for Arts has raised more than $64,000 of the $135,600 goal to bring Forever Friends to the Curran Apple Orchard Park.  The first down payment resulted in a life-size clay sculpture which exceeded the group’s expectations. 

    The next step of the process is to dismantle the horse and girl into several pieces to create molds in which the bronze can be poured.  However, UP for Arts must raise an additional $69,000 before the foundry process can begin. Additional funds are also needed to cover transportation and installation expenses.

    Besides submitting numerous grant applications and seeking in-kind contributions, UP for Arts is also sponsoring a “Chili Cook Off” between the UP Police and West Pierce Fire and Rescue on Thursday, August 22, along with a concert featuring the “Neon Mustangs”  at the Curran Orchard.  Tickets for the event are available online at www.upforarts.org or at the event.

    Other fundraising events include the 2nd annual Holiday Gala and Auction slated for Friday, December 13, in the UP Civic/Library Atrium. 

    After completion, the “Forever Friends” sculpture will be in a highly visible location within the Curran Apple Orchard Park near Grandview Drive.  “This project is going to happen,” said Nance.    “Community members have an opportunity to preserve a part of our history.

    Individual contributions can make a big difference, Nance said.   “Every time you go by the orchard or bring family and friends to visit, you can say that YOU helped to make “Forever Friends” happen.”

    Contributions of any amount are greatly appreciated by sending donations to UP for Arts, PO Box 65145, UP or making donations online at www.upforarts.org.

  • 23 Jul 2018 3:18 PM | Anonymous
    Mr. Curran with Back Interest and Brewster Age 1My older children attended Narrows Co-op Preschool, across the street from the orchard, during the time the horses lived there. The horses, as you can imagine, were very popular with the preschoolers. Sometimes the children would feed the horses carrots and apples through the fence slats.

    My favorite memory was one year when the preschool teacher, "Miss Molly" Wolfe, was teaching a unit on music and marching bands. She asked me and another mom to bring our band instruments and play marches and school fight songs so the children could march around to the music. Since it was a nice day, we did this outside on our school playground. As soon as the horses heard the music, they came running from the other side of the orchard and stood along the fence facing the playground, where they stayed until our marching session was done.

    -Judy Manza

    My family and I lived just above the Curran’s property on Ridge Road from 1971 until my husband and I moved to The Ranch in UP in 1996. Our three children were adults by then and long gone.

    The Curran horses were never frisky horses, but rather sedate and usually could be seen munching on grass. Our daughter Toni really loved those horses and they eventually came to know her and trust her since she usually walked by them on the way to and from Curtis Junior and Senior High Schools every day.

    As a result of that love for the Curran horses,Toni owned horses of her own in the semi-rural Olympia area and her lovely step-daughter Lydia is also a huge equine fan who rides competitively. Also, Lydia’s husband trained to be a farrier a few years ago.

    Thus, the Curran’s two horses have had a tremendous influence on my family!

    -Dorette M. Markham

  • 04 Jun 2018 5:12 PM | Anonymous

     What a joy it was to grow up near the Curran Apple Orchard! I used to walk the long way home from Sunset Elementary School just to see the horses. Christopher and Brewster were often there to meet me. I would always secretly hope they were close by the fence so I could feed them apples. Mr. Curran always warned me that these horses were pure bred and they just might bite my little fingers off. It scared me a bit, but not enough to stop feeding them.

    After marrying, Clay and I bought my family home on Ridge Road and the tradition continued. I would head down the hill with a bag of carrots to feed the horses. My children loved seeing those beautiful animals and Mr. and Mrs. Curran were always kind with us as we visited. The presence of the horses in our community added a calm peacefulness to our fast-moving suburban life. 

  • 24 Apr 2018 8:57 AM | Anonymous

    My husband received orders for Ft. Lewis back in 1983.  We were both ecstatic to be bringing our two children back to our home state, as we were both raised in Eastern Washington and met at Eastern Washington State College (EWSC), in 1972. 

    We found a lovely home in University Place, six blocks from the Curran Apple Orchard.  I was a firm believer that our children, daughter, age four and an eighteen month old son, needed to get out of the house and explore our area on foot.  We soon found the orchard and the two somewhat friendly horses that roamed through the apple trees.  We also found the horses loved it when one fed them the apples on the ground that we could reach through the wooden fence or the carrots that we would bring with us on our 'mission' for the day!  We didn't know the horses names, but it was on the top of my kids "to go to" list when I asked them what they wanted to do for the next exploration of our new area.

    We left University Place for Germany in 1986, but since, have returned to that same house, on that same street we left so many years ago.  Although our two kids are grown now, with families of their own, they all return every once in a while and we walk up to the orchard to "our" tree that we "adopted" in memory of those cherished years of feeding "Brewster" and "Christopher". 

    And soon, I will gaze upon the bronze statue of the little girl feeding "Brewster" and I will think of my own little girl... way back when.

    *photo courtesy of Karen Benveniste

  • 12 Apr 2018 8:51 PM | Anonymous

    My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree 

    Toward heaven still, 

    And there's a barrel that I didn't fill 

    Beside it, and there may be two or three 

    Apples I didn't pick upon some bough. 

    But I am done with apple-picking now. 

    Essence of winter sleep is on the night, 

    The scent of apples: I am drowsing off. 

    I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight 

    I got from looking through a pane of glass 

    I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough 

    And held against the world of hoary grass. 

    It melted, and I let it fall and break. 

    But I was well 

    Upon my way to sleep before it fell, 

    And I could tell 

    What form my dreaming was about to take. 

    Magnified apples appear and disappear, 

    Stem end and blossom end, 

    And every fleck of russet showing clear. 

    My instep arch not only keeps the ache, 

    It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round. 

    I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend. 

    And I keep hearing from the cellar bin 

    The rumbling sound 

    Of load on load of apples coming in. 

    For I have had too much 

    Of apple-picking: I am overtired 

    Of the great harvest I myself desired. 

    There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch, 

    Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall. 

    For all 

    That struck the earth, 

    No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble, 

    Went surely to the cider-apple heap 

    As of no worth. 

    One can see what will trouble 

    This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is. 

    Were he not gone, 

    The woodchuck could say whether it's like his 

    Long sleep, as I describe its coming on, 

    Or just some human sleep. 

    (Poem Public Domain)

    (Photo: Charles Curran with Apples from the Orchard)

  • 20 Nov 2017 6:44 PM | Anonymous

    Mary Curran won an essay contest in the late 1930's on "Why I'd like to live in UP." She won a land lot located at 3734 Olympic Bluvd W and the Curran's built a home on that location in 1939 according to the Tacoma-Pierce County Building Index. 

    Text of Article:

    Essay Contest Comes to End

    The first prize winning essay in the Soundview addition essay contest, which came to a close last week, has been released by the H. A. Briggs Co., sales agents for the new marine view subdivision in the West End. The award was a choice building site at Soundview, which was won by C. C. Curran of Tacoma. The essay follows:

    "Soundview addition! Yes, it is all the name implies and more. The site for our dream home has the advantages of city and suburban life combined. Located as it is, just seven and one-half miles from the city center, it has the surroundings of one of the most beautiful districts near Tacoma, and yet all the conveniences that city life has to offer.

    "For instance, you have the advantage of city lights, water, telephone service, protective building restrictions, bus transportation, a store, and an excellent, progressive grade school. And still, residents of this subdivision pay county taxes, may select a home site large enough for flower and vegetable gardens, even a badminton court if they desire.

    "At Soundview you may select a lot with an unequaled view of nature's splendors, one ever changing. In the foreground are the sparkling waters of Puget Sound, in the distance wooded islands and beyond the Olympic mountains! Here, in surroundings free from the soot and smoke of the city, one may breathe refreshing sea air and enjoy the sunshine of the day, not to mention sunsets that leave you breathless. Where could one find a healthier spot to live and bring up children?

    "Many of the sites have their own springs and streams, some are wooded and offer unusual opportunities for landscaping. Then, too, the roads have been laid out to conform with the contour of the property, thus keeping the surroundings and natural as possible.

    "Soundview stretches for a mile along the shores of Puget Sound, bounded by Sunset and Lemon beaches, and in the distance one may see the towers soon to support the Narrows bridge! Thus it is a new and growing community, one whose property is bound to appreciate. It seems hard to realize that with all the splendid advantages, the prices for lots start at a surprisingly low figure.

    "Then, too this addition is certain to be progressive -- one whose home owners are of the finest type, the kind of people you would like for neighbors, with sons and daughters who will make excellent playmates for your own children.

    "Do you wonder then, that, after moths of 'lot' shopping in and around Tacoma, we have chosen as the site for our dream home the subdivision of which Tacoma may feel justly proud -- Soundview addition?"

    * * * *

    Copy of original article:


    *Thank you to Mary Hammond for contributing to this post.

  • 18 Aug 2017 9:48 AM | Anonymous

    The Curran Apple Orchard is a beloved park in University Place attracting thousands of residents and visitors each year.  The orchard began in the early 1950s when Charles and Mary Curran purchased the property to build a home for their growing family. Mr. Curran planted apple trees after admiring an orchard in Eastern Washington.

    He used dynamite to blow out stumps and clear blackberries so he could plant 250 apple trees. During the same time, noted architect Robert Price designed the house which is undergoing renovation by the UP Historical Society for a future museum.

    Before cityhood in 1995, University Place was a rural area filled with orchards, horses grazing in fields and only a few hundred residents.

    Charles and Mary Curran continued to live in the orchard bringing up their three children along with several horses, dogs, two Siamese cats and cattle including one steer, who was so good looking, they called him “George R. Curtis.”

    Along with their full-time jobs (Charles a Continental Baking Driver and Secretary-Treasurer of the Local Teamsters Union and Mary was Director of Personnel at UPS), the Currans were deeply committed to their community.  Charles was a Rotarian and served on the UP School District Board for 28 years. Mary was active in PTA and preschools.

    Yet the creation of the orchard became their greatest contribution to the community. 

    People would stop by and purchase apples from Mr. Curran while children walking home from school enjoyed visiting the horses and feeding them apples.   

    At times, it was hard to tell who loved the apples more….people or the horses!

    The horses loved the apples so much that the Currans fenced them in when the trees were producing.  The horses also loved the mash from the cider press in the fall and would come running when they heard the process underway.

    The Curran horses were quite the neighborhood attraction.

    “When the Curtis Band would practice, the horses thought it was time for a parade and they would gallop around the orchard,” Mary recalled.  “Many young neighbors would also come to watch the horses and ask for rides.”  One year, Mary received a phone call at work saying the horses had left the orchard and were prancing past Curtis High School.  Son, Chuck Jr., then herded them back home using their jeep.  

    After development started to occur around the orchard, the UP Community Council approached the Currans for permission to submit a grant to preserve the orchard.  

    In 1993, the UP Community Council obtained the Pierce County Conservation Futures Grant to preserve the home and orchard forever. The newly formed City of University Place later assumed responsibility for the orchard park and home.

    Today, the orchard continues to bring people together with a variety of activities.

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