The Year Ahead: More Volunteers, More Visitors

The Year Ahead: More Volunteers, More Visitors

Bella Vista Museum has new book out in April


If you’ve ever used the phrase “small but mighty,” then you could have been describing the Bella Vista Historical Museum. Created by volunteers and still staffed and managed by them, its roots go back to the formation of the Bella Vista Historical Society in 1976, and its home was built in 1984 — starting as a prefabricated building set on a block foundation.

This is the dress worn by the bride when Emma and Harry Haynes were married Oct. 30, 1930, in Pine City, Minn. They visited Bella Vista in the 1970s, having won a free trip at the Minnesota State Fair. The dress was donated to the Bella Vista Historical Museum by daughter Glenice Henderson.
(Courtesy Photo)

According to Xyta Lucas, president of the Bella Vista Historical Society, all of the museum’s exhibits were initially focused on the Linebarger brothers, the 1917 founders of the Lake Bella Vista summer resort, whose artifact collection was donated by their three granddaughters. Now expanded to 3,000 square feet, the museum has taken on the mission of telling the story of the fast-growing Bella Vista community and those who call it home.

As part of a What’s Up! look forward into the new year — an annual effort that seems to take on deeper meaning this year — Lucas talked about where the museum has been and where it’s going.

“We had an extremely busy two years in 2018-19 getting the donated 1912 Settler’s Cabin moved to our grounds and furnished,” she begins. “That was a BIG project. Our Board held only two meetings this past year, one in January before we closed down, and then one in September just to discuss re-opening, so we haven’t yet decided on our next big goals. We do know that we want to continue our mission and attract more visitors to the museum to learn about and appreciate the unique and rich history of Bella Vista. Adding the Settler’s Cabin in 2019 to our grounds certainly helped us attract more visitors.

“We were pleased to participate this past summer in Shiloh Museum’s Shout Out Series, with a YouTube video created by Kim Hosey about our museum,” Lucas enumerates. “At last count it had gotten over 450 views, which was way more than we expected.

“One of our museum volunteers, Jill Werner, decided that while she was staying at home during the summer, she would make more of her homemade jam, which she has given away the past few years in return for donations to the museum,” Lucas continues. “On two Saturday mornings in the fall, she set up a table in front of Allen’s Food Market and raised over $2,000!

Bella Vista Historical Museum souvenir

“[And] we took on an upgrade of Summit Cemetery, in the Metfield area of Bella Vista, which was deeded to our Historical Society in 2018. Jim Lucas made over 30 white crosses in his workshop, and a work detail team from the Benton County Jail added those crosses to previously unmarked graves. Boy Scout Joshua Mattingly decided that for his Eagle Scout project, he would coordinate the building of additional fence around the cemetery. It turned out really good!”

Looking into 2021, Lucas says her first goal is “getting more volunteers involved with the museum and getting our visitor count back up to or exceeding what it was before covid hit.”

In 1966, John Cooper Sr. bought a team of mules in south Arkansas to pull a western-style wagon from Arkla Village to Bella Vista, creating publicity for the new Northwest Arkansas community. The mule team, which hauled visitors around the village in 1966-67, was sketched by Linda Pickens about 1979.
(Courtesy Image)

“Also, in line with one aspect of our Historical Society’s mission to preserve the community’s heritage, we have started to focus more on Bella Vista cemeteries,” she goes on. “We are now starting work on another larger one, Beavers Cemetery in the northwest corner of Bella Vista, and would like to get it into the same shape as we did the Summit Cemetery. We have also done some cleanup work on two small cemeteries here, Nott and Mills.”

But perhaps the biggest success of 2021 has already arrived — a new pictorial history book that is to be released by Arcadia Publishing Company in April, co-authored by Lucas and Dale Phillips.

“It features over 100 years of Bella Vista history in photographs,” Lucas says. “All royalties from the book are going to the museum as a fundraising project. It is already available as a pre-order on Amazon. The authors hope to be able to hold book signing events later in the spring and summer.”


Bella Vista Historical Museum

WHEN — Currently open 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

WHERE — 1885 Bella Vista Way in Bella Vista

COST — Free; a museum store includes many unique Bella Vista souvenirs

INFO — 855-2335 or

Categories: Family Friendly