Looking Back

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

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

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