• John-Michael Scurio

Discovering Eureka | Thriving Through The Decades

On December 18, 1970, The Eureka Springs Historic District became listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

At the time that our Historic District was listed, there were 967 properties in the district of which 491 (51%) contribute to the historic significance. The majority of those properties were residential, with 101 commercial buildings, five public buildings, twelve churches and fifteen natural springs. The district contained 596 buildings constructed before 1955 of which 72% were built prior to 1910. Even today, the overwhelming character of the buildings is derived from the Victorian era. Highly stylized versions of more than twenty different architectural influences are seen in the historic district. Natural elements are a significant part of the uniqueness of the Eureka Springs Historic District where houses and buildings are scattered over mountaintops, clinging to mountainsides, or nestling in the gorges of the city, each constructed uniquely to adapt to its terrain.

Although since 1970 the city limits has expanded a number of times, the boundaries of the district remain the same as when originally listed in 1970.


Through the decades of the 19th century was a time of immense growth for Eureka Springs as thousands of people visited the resort town. Eureka Springs was famous on a national level for its healing waters and the lore flourished about their abilities to renew a person back to health and wellness.


Elaborate buildings in the architectural styles popular during the Victorian era were constructed at record rate in this period from 1880 to 1910. Public improvements included gas lighting for city streets in 1885, a city municipal water system. An estimated 60,000 cubic yards of native limestone was used to construct walls, sidewalks, and public stairways leading from steep hills to other steep hills in the 1880s and 1890s.


Most of these features still exist today including ten flights of public steps in the historic district leading from one street to the next. Of particular note is the stairway called “Jacob’s Ladder” which begins on Jackson Street and comes out on Copper Street, containing more than two hundred steps and connecting three streets.

1870s

Although four major fires prior to the 1890s, in Eureka Springs, destroyed many of the early frame structures that had been hastily constructed, there are three extant houses in the Eureka Springs Historic District dating from the 1870s. Built in 1878, the house at 10 Magnolia is located on a steep hillside overlooking a deep ravine. This two-story frame house features little ornamentation in its simple design. The Eichor House at 14 Breeding was built in 1879 and is the district's oldest extant Second Empire style. The third building remaining from the 1870s is located at 124 Spring Street. Although the house was 'built in 1874 and is thought to be the oldest extant building in the district, it has been extensively altered and does not reflect its original historic appearance.


This 1874 house has seen several changes and additions until it's present condition as the home of one of Eureka's finest dining restaurant & lodging establishment "Rogue's Manor".


Located at 124 Spring St. this establishment features 4 main dining areas, a bar, 2 kitchens, 3 nightly rental units and a manager's quarters, 2 separate outdoor areas, windowed views of Hardy Springs, and beautiful structural details throughout.

1880s

The 1880s in Eureka Springs were marked by several disastrous fires that destroyed most of the city's wooden buildings. Seventy-two buildings constructed in the 1880s remain in the historic district. Largely as a result of the efforts of the Eureka Springs Improvement Company, formed in 1882 for the purpose of improving the living environment of Eureka Springs, the buildings constructed in this era were substantial. It was during this period that most of the city's infrastructure, including stone walks and walls, were put into place, providing more stability to the hillsides. Many of the buildings remaining from the 1880s are of stone construction and the frame buildings are almost all situated on sturdy stone foundations.


1890s

Representing the overall character of the Eureka Springs Historic District, the 190 houses and buildings constructed in the 1890s feature characteristics of high styles of the Victorian era, Second Empire, Italianate, Romanesque and Queen Anne. The influence of the Queen Anne and Second Empire styles is seen mostly on houses in the district, while the architecture of the historic commercial buildings heavily incorporates details of the Italianate and Romanesque styles into their designs.


Discovering Eureka is a blog series where we seek to discover the unique things that make up Eureka Springs. There is so much to see, experience and explore here in Eureka Springs and in this series we will take time to give you the local perspective on what to do, where to go, what to see and how did this become something significant for our town.

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