Eureka Springs, Arkansas – Main Street

Main Streets 2017 – Arkansas

Street View
Christ of the Ozarks James Hill
Primary Street View Christ of the Ozarks James Hill

Wandering down Main Street in Eureka Springs is a treat for the senses, as appealing sights wait around every curve and corner in this unique downtown.

Immaculately preserved historic Victorian buildings abound, many of them built around the seemingly countless springs that gave the city its name. The hilly, curving topography adds to the sense of being somewhere special. There are even some buildings that, as they follow the lay of the land, have street-level entrances on more than one floor.

All this contributed to Eureka Springs – the entire city – being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Over the years, Eureka Springs has landed many other laurels as well.

The city is very much a resort destination in the Ozark Mountains, and it proudly displays its history. The Eureka Springs Historical Museum, in the distinctive 1889 Calif Building on South Main Street, offers a great introduction to all that made Eureka Springs what it is. Sometimes known as The City That Water Built, Eureka Springs discovered its “healing waters” in the late 19th century and has been a magical destination ever since.

Just a block off North Main Street, the 1905-vintage Basin Park Hotel — “at the spring where it all began,” says the hotel’s website — offers fine lodging, dining and spa services. The Crescent Hotel and Spa, also nearby, is distinctive not just because it dates to 1886 and not just because the stunning, historic building is surrounded by 15 spectacular acres high on a hill. It also calls itself “America’s Most Haunted Hotel,” and offers tours to prove it.

There’s plenty of the spiritual in Eureka Springs. This city is home to Christ of the Ozarks, a 65-foot high statue of Jesus overlooking the city, and The Great Passion Play is staged locally every year from May through October, describing itself as “America’s No. 1 Attended Outdoor Drama.” A little farther afield is Thorncrown Chapel, a beautiful wood-and-glass church in the woods that has also become a tourist destination.

Visitors flock to Eureka Springs for the Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point, a summer music camp that has evolved into a home for professional opera. And for those whose interests range more widely, this is the site of the National Photography Contest, the Antique Automobile Festival, and the Scooting the Ozarks Rally for scooters and motorcycles.

Primary photo taken by Chris Litherland
Street View photo taken by Christopher Ziemnowicz
Christ of the Ozarks photo taken by James Hill

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Fayetteville, Arkansas – Center Street

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

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