Eureka Springs: Promoting, Maintaining Past Part Of Playbook (Main Street Preservation | Honorable Mention Under 5,000)

Strolling along downtown Eureka Springs’ meandering, hillside streets is sure to take one back a century or so. And that is just how city leaders like it.

Eureka Springs, founded in 1879 and known for its quirkiness and stunning historic architecture, continues to emphasize downtown development and historic preservation. These efforts have helped maintain this Ozarks resort town’s status as a national tourist destination and earned it a 2012 Arkansas Business City of Distinction honorable mention award for Main Street preservation.

Eureka Springs was one of the first Arkansas entries into the National Register of Historic Places, and in 2005 that designation was upgraded to “National Significance.” Not long after its addition to the national register in 1970, city leaders created the Eureka Springs Historic District Commission, which even today reviews about 500 applications annually.

The commission applies not only national register standards, but its own exacting standards to would-be district properties.

“The success that Eureka Springs is currently enjoying as a visitor destination is based on appreciation of the architectural and natural beauty of this particular place,” said Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce president Mike Bishop, who nominated the city for its award. “Preservation of these assets is a core value to virtually all citizens and visitors. There is recognition that preservation of these assets, especially downtown, is essential to the economic survival and growth of Eureka Springs. There is also a recognition that this can only be effective through collaboration of the public, non-profit and private sectors.”

Eureka Springs has benefited from each. Public support is represented through the city’s creation of the historic commission and its membership in various historic preservation programs; non-profit support through organizations such as the Eureka Springs Preservation Society, the Eureka Springs Historical Museum, the Community Development Partnership, the Carroll County Historical Society and the Eureka Springs Downtown Network, and private support through the efforts of citizens who maintain the many, turn-of-the-century (and earlier) homes, businesses and churches.

“The charm of the town lies in the variety of architectural styles juxtaposed against each other and the stunning mountain terrain,” Bishop said. “The eclectic architecture which tells the story of Eureka Springs is the effort of private homeowners using their own money.”