Eureka Springs Is Worth a Visit
From the Osage tribe who used to frequent the Springs to European settlers who also sought the waters’ healing powers, Eureka Springs has long been a desirable place to be. Not surprisingly then, real estate in the area has been incredibly well-preserved. In fact, the city’s entire downtown district is registered with the National Register of Historic Places, and Eureka Springs is regarded as one of America's Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The History of Eureka Springs’ Real Estate Boom
Though Native peoples had been frequenting the area long before European-Americans arrived, Eureka Springs was officially named and established on July 4, 1879. By that time, the Springs were widely regarded as having healing properties — thanks in large part to Native American tales of healing and "Dr. Jackson's Cave Hospital", which used the water to tend to combatants during the Civil War.
"People started coming from Chicago, St. Louis, New York, Vermont, the Carolinas, and Texas," June Westphal, one of the founders of the Eureka Springs Historical Museum told Architectural Digest. “They thought the waters could cure paralysis, diabetes, asthma, insomnia, dropsy, rheumatism, gout and stomach problems. They were ill and badly needed help, so their families brought them here."
The population of the area exploded, reaching roughly 10,000 residents two years later in 1881.
A year later, the railroad came to Eureka Springs, solidifying the city as both a tourist attraction and economic hub. Thousands of homes, many of which are still standing, were constructed during this time along with the notable Crescent Hotel (1886), the Basin Park Hotel (1905), and the New Orleans Hotel and Spa (1892), the latter of which now operates as an all-suite hotel full of Victorian-era furnishings, art, and decor.
Architecture of Eureka Springs
Considering much of the area’s growth occurred toward the end of the 19th century, Victorian-style architecture is common throughout Eureka Springs. Though “Victorian” really means “constructed during the reign of Queen Victoria”, it’s often referring to the popular styles of “Queen Anne”,“Folk Victorian”,”Italianate”, and “Gothic-Revival” of the time — nearly all of which can be found in Eureka Springs. As a tourist, taking a guided walking tour of the city truly allows you to take a step back in time.
Eureka Springs Today
Today only about 2,000 people call Eureka Springs home, but it remains a popular tourist destination, especially for architecture. According to Architectural Digest, the town is recognized as having one “the largest collection of unspoiled Victorian houses in the central United States”. Visitors enjoy dining, shopping, and stepping back in history in what is definitely one of America’s most charming small towns.
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