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Celebrate the Ozarks: Eureka Springs became famous for baths, thrives now because of arts

Published On: Dec 24 2013 08:22:25 AM CST   Updated On: Oct 03 2013 03:26:42 PM CDT

Eureka Springs became famous in the late 1800s for its healing waters. Now its' known for encouraging artists.


Eureka Springs has as rich a history as you'll find in the Ozarks. Even its name comes from pop culture of yesteryear.

The town got the name in 1879 from a discovery that quickly spread and turned the isolated area in the Ozark Mountains into a national resort attraction, which refined into the relaxing town you experience today.

The story goes that Dr. Alvah Jackson discovered the medicinal properties in the water coming from the many springs here, and bottled and sold it as "Dr. Jackson's Eyewater." Then, when a good doctor friend of his from Berryville suffered from a painful skin condition, Jackson brought him to bathe in the springs and -- Eureka! -- the condition got better, hence Eureka Springs.

The Queen Anne Mansion is a stunning example of Victorian era opulence, and has quite a history of its own. It was built 11 years after the springs here made the area famous, but the Queen Anne was built more than 100 miles away in Carthage, Mo.
This 12,000-square-foot home was built for industrialist Curtiss Wright in 1891. In 1984, it was moved piece by piece to Eureka Springs taking one year, $500,000 and 40 trucks to do so.

Steve and Lata Lovell bought the property in 2005 and have poured millions into restoring it and filling it with pieces from the period. It’s a labor of love that Steve stumbled upon one free afternoon while in the area.

The Queen Anne has seven suites spread over four stories with a dozen baths and eight fireplaces, and is a private residence now being sold in a fractional ownership arrangement. It has a resort style pool, bocce court, a putting green, and a full service kitchen.

Eureka Springs has long been known for its art. Dozens of galleries and, artists from around the world make the town a mecca for art lovers, and it started more than 125 years ago.

As the first wealthy tourists came to Eureka Springs, so did artists. The town became known as much for its art as its healing waters. That continues to this day at the non-profit Eureka Springs School of Arts.

"A bunch of artists many years ago wanted to have an arts school in Eureka Springs. Local artists did school without walls. They would have art classes in individual art studios. And that's how it started."

Now the school has a campus of studios.

"Now we offer more than 50 classes a year."

It's not just at this school, but all over town. Eureka Springs is famous for its art and music.

"We love music, visual arts, writing literary arts, culinary arts. It's just everywhere. Exciting, funky, fun. It's kind of like ‘Have much fun’ is the mantra."

"It's very inspiring for people to come here and work. Students don't want to go home at the end of the day. They just want to work way too late -- way too late!"

And, just like Sedona, Ariz.; Carmel, Calif.; and New York City, this little town is renowned for the creative works of its nationally known artists, photographers and sculptors. Carol Dickey, Charles Pearce, Denise Ryan, Larry Mansker, Diana Harvey, Jody Stephenson, Zeek Taylor, and John Willer all draw on the Ozarks for their inspiration.