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Eureka Springs Historic District History Lesson

Eureka Springs Arkansas was named one of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The Eureka Springs Historic District is a main draw to this special town.  Today, the streets are lined with stunning architecture, art galleries and specialty shopping which brings tourists back year after year.  The history of the town all began back in 1879 with the traveling word of the town’s healing springs.

On July 4, 1879, the town of Eureka Springs was founded.  Known for its great healing spring, visitors would flock to the town to experience the healing waters of the Basin Spring.  Because word spread so quickly of the springs healing powers, the city became Arkansas 4th largest city by the end of 1881.

Many stories live on today of the spring’s healing powers.  The Sioux Indians brought the daughter of a great Chieftan to the springs to heal an eye infection that had affected her sight.  Shortly after bathing her eyes in the spring water, her sight was restored.  Dr. Alvah Jackson who is said to be the first white settler to discover the springs also used the water to cure his son’s eye ailment.  Dr. Jackson used the healing waters to care for ailing patients from the Civil War and later sold the water calling it Dr. Jackson’s Eye Water.

The downtown area of Eureka Springs is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Spring Street was named One of America’s 10 Best Streets in 2010 by the American Planning Association.  The historic district is home to five historic hotels and 100 restored mansions that have been turned into bed and breakfasts inns.    The streets in the historic district are lined with art galleries, shopping and dining all unique to the Eureka Springs area.

To learn more about the history of this incredible town, there are two walking tours held daily downtown.  These tours talk about the people who have been a part of the town’s history over the years, discuss the architecture of the buildings in the area and also take you to the three undergrounds in Eureka Springs.  To purchase tickets for the tours, click here.

Another great way to learn more about the town is to visit the Eureka Springs Historical Museum located on South Main Street.  The Museum preserves and protects the history of the town.  There are many permanent and rotating exhibits to be seen when visiting and touring the Museum.  The Eureka Springs Historical Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30am to 4:00pm and then Sundays from 11:00am to 4:00pm.

For a unique lodging experience in Eureka Springs, look no further than beautiful Arsenic and Old Lace.  This Queen Anne Victorian style bed and breakfast offers five guest suites each complete with private bathroom.  A complimentary gourmet breakfast is served each morning in the dining room.  The wrap around porch is ideal for enjoying some quiet time with a cup of coffee or glass of wine.  Arsenic and Old Lace is located just two blocks from the historic district meaning all the tours and happenings of the downtown area are within walking distance.  Besides being pet friendly, this bed and breakfast makes a great getaway for family reunions or small wedding parties.

Photo courtesy of Doug Wertman

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