Photo courtesy of Eureka Springs Historical Museum
This week, we will focus on one of the most historical and iconic
structures in Eureka Springs, and also one of the most unique: the
Carroll County Western District Courthouse.
Shortly after the Berryville Courthouse was completed in 1882, a
movement began to have a second county seat established in Eureka
Springs. During the 1880s, Eureka Springs was rapidly growing
in size. The automobile had not been invented, and the fastest
mode of transportation was by horseback.
It took a long time to direct a horse 12 miles. Another problem
facing early residents was that the Kings and Osage rivers frequently
flooded. The Kings River Bridge was not yet built. When the Kings
River flooded, Eureka residents had to wait for it to recede to conduct
much of their business.
In 1907, the Times Echo published a sketch of the courthouse
that was under construction. It was designed in the Romanesque
revival style … built with quarried limestone from the Eureka Stone
Company near the town of Beaver. It cost $17,000 to build.
The building was ready for occupancy in 1908. When they built
the courthouse, it was a completely open area, and they simply built
on the existing terrain. There was a deep hollow beside it where the
stream runs off. In the 1920s, the hollow on either side of the building
was filled in to make parking areas. So it is set down into the
ground and the first floor is now almost entirely below ground level.
This explains the reason for the unusual entrances.
Fire did consume the roof of the central tower at one time, and
the roof was rebuilt with a simple, hip roof. In 2001, the courthouse
was crowned with a new cupola, an exact replica of the original
dome-shaped roof. It is still vital to the city of Eureka Springs today.
— Stephanie Stodden
Museum Operations Manager