Roenigks donate house to WCDH for expansion

Wednesday, March 31, 2004
A key to the future, Rebecca Garner, past president of the board of directors of the Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow, left, accepts a large, "gold key" from Elise and Martin Roenigk to open the door of the house at 505 Spring St. The Roenigks gave the house to the Colony last Wednesday. CCN Photo/Mary Jean Sell

Martin and Elise Roenigk have donated the house and property at 505 Spring St. to the Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow.

In a fairly short, informal ceremony Wednesday afternoon, the Roenigks presented a large gold "key" to the house to Rebecca Garner, past president of the WCDH Board of Directors, of Fayetteville.

"When Ned Shank (co-founder of WCDH) died two years ago, we were not sure we would be able to go forward with our dream," Garner said. "People like the Roenigks have come forward to help with support in so many ways. This gift will make so much more possible for the Colony."

The Colony is a non-profit organization providing uninterrupted residency time for writers and composers and interacts with the wider community to stimulate new thinking and energize creative expression.

The Roenigks are owners of the Crescent and Basin Park Historic Hotels in Eureka Springs.

"We have an abiding interest in books," Marty Roenigk said during the ceremony.

"When we met Ned and Crescent (Dragonwagon, co-founder) early on after we bought the hotels and got involved in the development of the Colony.

"It is a national resource that is just right for Eureka Springs. We wanted to help with expansion of the space and the Colony's ability to host more writers.

"By donating this building, we are helping the Colony accomplish two things, adding space and adding equity so the people who run it can go forward with plans for the future."

The property joins the existing Colony property at 515 Spring St. The "new" house was built in 1950 in the Prairie Style and it overlooks Harmon Park.

Some renovation work is needed to divide the house into four suites with a common room for programs and meetings.

"We hope to work with a national magazine on the renovation project similar to the culinary suite (515 Spring) we did with Renovation Style magazine," said Sandy Wright, WCDH director.

The magazine funded the rehabilitation of a portion of the house into one unit as a state-of-the-art culinary suite, the only one of its kind in the world.

Wright said the Colony facilities are "almost completely" booked for the coming year.

"We have 50 outreach programs this year and each writer gives one day of community service per month," Wright said. "We are doing programs across the state in schools and communities."

Wright also acknowledged financial partners Elizabeth Kelley and Jay Ertel of Community First Bank, LeRoy Gorrell, director of the City Advertising and Promotion Commission (CAPC) and Joe McClung Jr. of the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for their support of the Colony in their various efforts.

In February, the WCDH Board of Directors purchased the property at 515 Spring St., working with Community First Bank.

The Roenigks have been a major support to arts organizations in Eureka Springs.

Elise serves as treasurer for the WCDH board.

They are working with the city, the Eureka Springs School of the Arts and other groups to develop an arts and cultural district in town that encompasses the Writers' Colony and extends south on Main Street to the new Lane House/Main Stage Creative Community Center.

"We are pleased to be part of this arts and cultural focus in Eureka Springs," Martin Roenigk said. "Eureka is our home and we want to support the arts and artists that contribute so much to our identity and our future. We want this entire area to blossom."

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