His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum open house draws crowd

The Weekly Vista - - News - LYNN ATKINS latkins@nwadg.com

The Bella Vista His­tor­i­cal Mu­seum was a busy place on Thurs­day. Be­tween 4 and 7 p.m., 92 peo­ple vis­ited the mu­seum. It was the night of the an­nual open house. Many of the vis­i­tors went home with door prizes do­nated by lo­cal busi­nesses.

The all-vol­un­teer mu­seum is an in­de­pen­dent non­profit op­er­ated by the Bella Vista His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety. Ex­hibits cover the his­tory of Bella Vista from early Indian set­tle­ments to present day. Many of the ex­hibits con­cen­trate on the last 100 years — after the first Bella Vista re­sort was founded through the 1960s when John Cooper Sr. came to town and bought farm­land all the way up to the Mis­souri line. The in­cor­po­ra­tion that turned the “vil­lage” into a city in 2007 is cov­ered, along with Lake Bella Vista, Won­der­land Cave and the old Sun­set Ho­tel.

This year, an ex­hibit about Fay Jones, the ar­chi­tect who de­signed both the Coun­try Club build­ing and Cooper Chapel, has been pop­u­lar. It’s a trav­el­ing ex­hibit which will move on later this year.

Xyta Lu­cas, pres­i­dent of the His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, cred­its the Fay Jones ex­hibit with bring­ing many new vis­i­tors to the mu­seum.

From Jan­uary to the end of Septem­ber, 2,482 vis­i­tors were recorded. In 2017 that num­ber was 1,868, and in 2016 it was 1,576, Lu­cas said.

The board’s goal for the year was to sign up 100 mem­bers, and it will prob­a­bly reach that this month, Lu­cas said.

She’s also look­ing for­ward to a new ex­hibit. An old cabin was do­nated to the mu­seum and a foun­da­tion is be­ing pre­pared so it can be moved to its new home. A GoFundMe ac­count was set up to help pay to move the cabin.

Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista

Dur­ing the an­nual open house, Melissa Ken­dus shows mem­bers of the Bella Vista His­tory Mu­seum’s board of di­rec­tors, John Flynn (left) and Steve Mor­row, a slide show about the Won­der­land Cave. She and her hus­band, Nick Ken­dus, helped clean out the cave over the last sev­eral years.

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