Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Eureka Springs, Arkansas, nestled in the Ozarks near the Missouri border, where rolling hills, small farms, rivers, streams, and limestone cliffs characterize the landscape, was founded in 1879 as a health resort. The town’s many natural springs and healthy mountain air attracted visitors from across the Midwest and South, and Eureka Springs became a well-known spa with lodgings scattered over its hills and hollows.
Although Eureka Springs is a successful tourist destination, many townspeople would like to enhance the arts and cultural strengths of the community. The town is a
haven for painters, potters, sculptors, jewelers, writers, and musicians, and there are opportunities both to expand living and working space for artists and to offer tourists more venues to experience and share in the arts.
The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design workshop of August 13-15, 2006, coordinated by Glenna Booth, the town’s Economic Development Coordinator, focused
on designing an Arts and Culture District for Eureka Springs on North Main Street. The aim was to develop concepts for a pedestrian friendly area with galleries, artists’ living quarters,restaurants, parks, and other street amenities. The challenges involved re-designing parking areas, rehabilitating historic abandoned buildings, designing suitable infill development, designing a pedestrian walkway, and enhancing existing green space.
Ed McMahon, Senior Fellow at the Urban Land Institute, was the workshop’s keynote speaker. He spoke about the economic benefits of preserving community character to an open audience in the town’s auditorium.
The workshop resulted in conceptual designs for the Arts and Culture district, specific drawings and ideas about design details along the street (sidewalk, parking lots, parks), and a very specific process for bringing the former ice house, a “white elephant” building at one of the entrances into town, back to life as a focal point of the community.