Main Streets 2016: Arkansas
At the heart of Center Street is Fayetteville Square, which has been a focal point of this northwestern Arkansas community since the county’s first courthouse was built here in 1829. Center Street was also home to the Butterfield House, a lodging stop along the U.S. Postal Department’s first transcontinental stagecoach mail service. The Butterfield Overland Mail Route carried mail from St. Louis to San Francisco in the years just before the Civil War.
Today “The Square” is home to several buildings in the National Register of Historic places, including the original Fayetteville post office, built in 1911, and the Old Bank of Fayetteville Building. The area is surrounded by wide sidewalks and landscaped gardens and hosts a variety of well-attended events, including First Thursday on the Square, the Block Street Block Party, the Lights of the Ozarks Festival, Last Night Fayetteville and the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market. The Square blends history with contemporary downtown amenities, including boutiques, restaurants, music venues, museums, condos, a visitor center and a convention center.
Set in the Boston Mountains of the Ozark region, Fayetteville is best known today as the home of the University of Arkansas, which was founded here in 1871. The city has all the attractions of a university town — a prominent arts and music scene, emphasis on local businesses, a college-oriented bar/restaurant district, progressive residents and a focus on environmental sustainability.
To the east on Center Street, you’ll find the University of Arkansas Global campus and the Fine Arts Center Gallery. Heading west, Center Street runs past Evergreen Cemetery, where several important historical figures are laid to rest, including U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright. Continuing west, Center Street connects to the south side of the university’s main campus, where the sidewalks are engraved with the names of all of the institution’s more than 120,000 graduates. West Center Street turns into Clinton Drive. Bill and Hillary Clinton owned their first home here, and were married in the living room. Their former residence is now the Clinton House Museum.
Fayetteville has been recognized on many lists, including Forbes magazine’s “Best Places for Business and Careers” and “Top College Towns,” and Inc. magazine’s “Best Mid-Size Cities for Doing Business.” This is a city that holds its history close while striving to retain the charm, accessibility and vibrancy of a modern university town.
Street photo courtesy of Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
Fayetteville Farmer’s Market photo courtesy of Brandon Rush