The Past Informs The Future

The Past Informs The Future

Bella Vista Historical Museum ready to reopen


“As more newcomers move to Bella Vista, we think it’s important to educate them about our community’s heritage,” says Xyta Lucas, co-president of the Bella Vista Historical Society. As keepers of the Bella Vista Historical Museum, she says, “we believe that people who know and care about their community’s history will come to care more about their community as it is today and contribute however they can to making it a better place to live.”

Like so many institutions, the museum has been closed all summer due to covid-19 concerns. That doesn’t mean that Lucas and other volunteers haven’t been busy, but they’ll also be delighted to reopen to the public Oct. 31.

The Linebarger winery stood behind the log house that most recently was known as the Artist Retreat Center in Bella Vista. Sara Parnell donated this original sign to the Bella Visa Historical Museum this summer.
(Courtesy Photo)

“We had scheduled our annual membership meeting for March 15 with Jim Wozniak as the speaker on the history of the police department in Bella Vista,” Lucas recalls. “When he said he was comfortable with still coming to speak, we held the meeting, but by then people were wary enough that only a handful showed up. We decided after that meeting to shut down.”

Seven months later, “we knew that people were looking for something different to do with so many events canceled and places closed, so when the Shiloh Museum in Springdale and the Rogers Historical Museum decided to reopen in September, we talked about how we could handle reopening, knowing that our staff is all volunteers,” she explains. “Several of our volunteers said with safety measures in place, they would be comfortable returning, so we decided to gradually reopen starting Oct. 31.”

In 2015, through a quit claim deed from the Linebarger heirs, Carole Harter and her two sisters, the Bella Vista Historical Museum became owner of the native stone water tank built by the Linebargers in 1927 at the corner of today’s Cunningham Drive and Cedar Crest Drive.
(Courtesy Photo)

Of course, those safety measures will be “subject to change, based on the latest covid data from the Arkansas Department of Health.”

“Visitors will be asked not to enter if they have flu-like covid symptoms,” Lucas says. “Masks will be required. Visitors will be asked to practice social distancing while in the museum, and if they visit with a group, to please stay together.

“The number of visitors at one time will be limited to a maximum of 10. If visitors happen to arrive when the museum is at maximum capacity, they will be asked to wait outside until there is room for additional visitors. Hand sanitizers will be provided throughout the museum.”

Also, Lucas says, “we will limit our open days to Saturdays and Sundays only, with the same hours we’ve had before, 1 to 5 p.m. If all goes well, we will expand to our past schedule of Wednesdays through Sundays, being closed only on Mondays and Tuesdays. We hope at that point more of our volunteers will be comfortable coming back, and then we will determine how many we still need to recruit.”

Visitors to the museum will see some of what Lucas and others have been working on all summer.

The Bella Vista Public Library donated two glass display cases which the Bella Vista Historical Museum is now using to house Wonderland Cave information.
(Courtesy Photo)

“We have rearranged some of our exhibits and also made room for some new donations,” she explains. “The city library donated two very nice glass display cases which we are now using to house Wonderland Cave information. When Sara Parnell sold the Artist Retreat Center this summer, she gave us several Linebarger historical items that are now on display from that building, which was formerly the Linebarger residence.

“But the two big projects for the summer were the pictorial history book that my co-president, Dale Phillips, and I did on Bella Vista as a fundraiser for the museum,” Lucas adds. “We signed a contract in June with Arcadia Publishing Company, submitted the final chapters on Oct. 9, will do any rework they require this fall, and expect to see the book published in 2021. And all the jams that our Board member, Jill Werner, made this summer as a fundraiser for the museum. She raised nearly $2,400!

“As an aside, we also have a top-notch gift shop due to the efforts of Jill Werner, who was our first gift shop manager, that not only sells books about the history of Bella Vista and other items, but also features the only Bella Vista souvenirs available — other than the golf related items available in Bella Vista golf pro shops,” Lucas says. “So we are proud of that, too.”

The Settler’s Cabin is the most popular exhibit at the Bella Vista Historical Museum, according to Xyta Lucas. It was built around 1912 in what became The Highlands of Bella Vista, later used as an art studio and donated to the museum in 2018. It is now fully furnished, thanks to donations and the work of volunteer Carol Phillips.
(Courtesy Photo)


Bella Vista Historical Museum

WHEN — 1-5 p.m. Saturday & Sunday, beginning Oct. 31

WHERE — 1885 Bella Vista Way in Bella Vista

COST — Free

INFO — 855-2335 or

Categories: Galleries