Bella Vista Museum
This local history museum is staffed by members of the Bella Vista Historical Society. Visitors to the museum learn the history of Bella Vista and Northwest Arkansas from the period when it was home to several Native American tribes to the creation of a summer resort and retirement community.
Backstory and Context
Northwest Arkansas was popular for its springs, of which there are many. Look at an old map and you’ll see many towns named after their water…Elm Springs, Cave Springs, Springdale, Siloam Springs, Sulphur Springs, and Eureka Springs – And, don’t forget that further south, Hot Springs was made into America’s first National Park in 1832, just 29 years after the Louisiana Purchase. Naturally pure springs were always an asset, but for health reasons it was believed that mineral springs had special powers....
resbyterian Minister, Rev. William Baker and his wife, Mary. In 1909 they acquired some property along Sugar Creek north of Bentonville, the County seat. It was a highly successful town with the largest apple distillery west of the Mississippi plus all the money generated from the non-apple-jack market. The Bakers visualized sharing this land of theirs with others by creating a resort.
In 1915, they built a dam across Sugar Creek and plotted a subdivision with the intention of selling lots. Its name was selected from entries submitted to the Bakers to name their new area. Mrs. George Crowder, owner of Park Springs Hotel in Bentonville, submitted Bella Vista, a Spanish name meaning beautiful view."
In the next decade, other businessmen built small resorts and a golf-course in the area and Bella Vista became a leading destination for summer travelers. The Great Depression nearly destroyed this business, but other developers stepped in and converted the area into a popular retirement community