Pioneering Telluride developer discovers next great destination: Eureka Springs
EUREKA SPRINGS -- Twenty years ago, Private Residence Club pioneer David Disick recognized a quiet renaissance growing in the Rocky Mountain town of Telluride, Colo., and helped steer it to prominence among the world's great destinations.
Today, Disick senses a similar excitement taking hold in up-and-coming Eureka Springs, Ark.
"There are remarkable similarities between early Telluride and Eureka Springs today, from their well-preserved Victorian roots to their vibrant artistic enclaves to the natural beauty of their settings," said Disick, principal, The Fractional Consultant. "Comparisons can be drawn, too, between the remarkable energy that is building in Eureka Springs and the emerging vitality that presaged the rise of other celebrated destinations from Santa Fe to Aspen to Key West."
The flurry of activity in this corner of the Ozarks has also caught the attention of Travel & Leisure which named Northwest Arkansas the only U.S. destination among its "12 Hottest Travel Destinations for 2012" and cited Eureka Springs among "America's Greatest Main Streets."
Eureka Springs on the Rise
Eureka Springs was founded in the late 19th century, when claims of natural springs with healing powers transformed this remote corner of Northwest Arkansas into a flourishing Victorian resort. Today, this town of 2,200 residents welcomes 800,000 visitors each year -- and rising, spurred by the city's reenergized promotional efforts and the $1-billion Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in nearby Bentonville.
Eureka Springs' colorful past is well-preserved in the Victorian architecture, gingerbread cottages and other historic buildings that line its steep and winding streets. Its entire historic district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The region's eclectic charms and natural beauty have made it a haven for artists, more than 450 of whom call it home.
There are more than 20 galleries downtown, nestled between local craft and gift shops, antique stores, coffee houses, and sidewalk cafes. The town hosts an array of annual festivals, including the May Fine Arts Festival, Shakespeare in the Ozarks, Opera in the Ozarks, Diversity Weekends, Books in Bloom, auto shows, and an annual UFO conference. This summer, Eureka Springs hosts the Stradivari International Violin Makers Competition and Conference at the prestigious 2012 CICA Summer Music Festival.
Eureka Springs' gracious past, world-class present and the breathtaking beauty of its open mountain roads have also inspired one of the nation's top driving events, Ferrari of Denver's Crescent Classic Rally. This draws an impressive collection of exotic performance cars and their owners to this corner of the Ozarks each year for a weekend of non-competitive touring and a concours.
In addition to Travel & Leisure, Eureka Springs and Bentonville are springing up in feature articles and must-see lists in outlets including The Globe and Mail, Time Out Chicago, Huffington Post and stltoday.com. American Style Magazine recently named Eureka Springs one of the "Top 25 Small Cities for Art."
A "Eureka" Moment
From its hilltop perch commanding the gateway to the Eureka Springs historic district, The Queen Anne Mansion is poised for a new life as a Private Residence Club, opening the door on an extraordinary chance to own, and live in, a remarkable piece of American history, just as Eureka Springs stands at the threshold of an exciting new era.
Disick describes his own first encounter with the Mansion: "While the exterior and grounds left me awestruck, it was upon passing through the magnificent entryway that I felt transported back to the American Victorian era. Standing at the foot of the intricately carved, central grand staircase, my eye was drawn three flights upward to a skylight framed by a massive mural depicting the four seasons in the Ozarks. It was at this juncture that I experienced a "Eureka" moment -- the sense that I was standing at the convergence of the right place and the right time."
Under the direction of Steve and Lata Lovell, who purchased the Mansion in 2005, the 1891 residence has emerged from an exacting, five-year restoration that has preserved its 19th-century ambience and graced its rooms with a valuable collection of art and antiques.
Its debut comes at a time when the Private Residence Club market is reaching a tipping point, with shared ownership performing consistently better than whole ownership in the current economy. With vacation homes typically used for just a few weeks a year, shared ownership requires a fraction of the investment and none of the hassle of property management associated with whole ownership.
Unique to The Queen Anne Mansion is its use of the Private Residence Club model to preserve a treasured, historic home. In an economic environment in which few can afford the price tag associated with buying and maintaining a landmark structure, shared ownership provides the economic and management framework to make this dream possible.
It is a model that has captured the attention of the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the Lovells have been invited to the 2012 National Preservation Conference to present the Mansion's conversion as an innovative business model with potential applications to other historic homes and structures.
The Bottom Line
This serendipitous timing -- Eureka Springs' renaissance, the Queen Anne Mansion's transformation, and the rise of the Private Residence Club model -- affords those drawn to Eureka Springs' charms an entrée to ownership in an extraordinary destination as much of the rest of the world is just discovering its appeals.
For more information on The Queen Anne Mansion Preservation Trust, Inc. contact: Steve and Lata Lovell, The Queen Anne Mansion, 115 W. Van Buren, Eureka Springs, AR 72632; email: email@example.com; www.ownthequeenanne.com.