The Return to Fayetteville
In this article:
Dickson St. Inn
University of Arkansas
Prairie Grove Civil War Grounds
Stepping out into a hot blast of ninety-degree heat and humidity at the Northwest Arkansas International airport, was a quick reminder of summers in Fayetteville. The airport itself was a pleasant experience- modern, spacious, and easy to navigate with friendly people. The airport is located out in the country, surrounded by large green grassy fields with a simple two-lane country road that leads to the 540 Interstate. Passing by a small town, an old country cemetery, a small creek and green tall trees as far as the eye can see, you realize this is not Los Angeles anymore. A wide slow smile spreads across my face as I try to grasp the reality that I have returned to a place that has made such a profound imprint upon my adult life.
Although I have tried to explain to friends and family about Fayetteville, I fall short, because it is more than a place; it’s a Southern groove, a way of life, simplicity, a place where people smile, a place of education, a country town, but not a country town with an amazing international University. Music and culture are everywhere. You can relax and sit on a front porch swing and say hi to your neighbors walking by, or work at a well-known international company such as Wal-mart, J.B. Hunt or Tyson chicken. You can live on a small farm and attend college, jump in a lake, swim in a river, enjoy a performing arts center Broadway production, take in a blue grass band, dance and appreciate art. Everything is here, watercress with sweet water springs, singing cicadas, fireflies at night, people and businesses, learning and education. How can I explain a winter ice storm, yellow jonquils popping up in the white snow and spring red azaleas. There is just something extraordinary about Fayetteville.
As a young woman, I rolled into Fayetteville traveling. A drive down Maple St. with fall trees changing with beautiful colors and then driving up the hill, I discovered the University of Arkansas. It was enchanting and I decided to stay living there. I changed universities. This was not exactly an easy decision either. I was attending the University of Colorado in Boulder, another college town that I truly love from my home state. I can only say the Southern style drew me in and it was a good decision, one of those moments where you follow your heart.
The Dickson St. Inn
When searching on-line, I was looking for something really special for a place to stay. Because I know Fayetteville well, I needed easy access to the places I planned to visit. I wanted to stay in a historical hotel with boutique style accommodations and good service. I discovered the Dickson St. Inn at www.dicksonstreetinn.com. Not only did this newly renovated historical Victorian home fit all my criteria, it provided a perfect location to walk right down Dickson St., the center of town filled with restaurants, venues and easy access to the University of Arkansas campus. A short walk also leads to the central square with a very well attended Farmer’s Market, restaurants, specialty stores, the bike trail and the showcase Fayetteville Public Library.
The Dickson St. Inn has a special relaxed ambience. There are eight beautifully decorated guest rooms on three levels and two larger Carriage House suites. Rooms are quiet with luxuriously comfortable beds and digital wall screens, making you want to stay in your room, rest, and lounge. Rooms have excellent air conditioning that is greatly appreciated during hot summer heat. Bathrooms are clean and spacious with wonderful bathtub jets and clean white fluffy towels changed daily. Window curtains were specially made to block the sunlight for better sleeping.
The Dickson St. Inn supplies a complimentary continental breakfast with fresh grown organic local foods, fresh berries, cereals, sweet rolls, coffee and teas. Access to the kitchen is a big plus. Bob, a tall, pleasant and very informative night manager at the hotel casually noted, “This is a house, not a hotel,” so no one complained when I wanted to heat up my green tea in the kitchen and add soy milk from the fridge, (that they had bought especially for me). I could fix my own hot oatmeal, but they really preferred to do it for me. Essentially, no one was hung up over rules and using the house. Staying for a long visit, you relax and feel comfortable as though you live there. Breakfast is served in the front dining room of the Victorian with a side parlor complete with the Wall St. Journal or the Northwest Arkansas Times. The staff printed out from the internet key points from the Los Angeles Times during our visit. I casually found it on the breakfast table, and then realized they had added that special touch just for me. Of course local telephone service is available, as well as Wi-Fi and high-speed internet service along with drinks and snacks in each room.
The house was built in 1894 as the primary residence of John C. Mitchell and his wife, Mary West where they lived until 1911. Following that, it served as a boarding house until renovation in 2009. The renovation was a great success and the environment at the Dickson St. Inn is extremely pleasant with a front room dining area, parlor, and a veranda bar open in the evening for drink and hors d’oeuvres. As a guest of the house, I invited special friends over for an evening of food and drinks in the front parlor. Everyone could relax and enjoy the house. Later the manager took my guests on a wonderful tour of the inn allowing everyone to see the restoration of the house and the pleasant rooms with views. Each room had it’s own unique antique cabinets and special art selections complimenting the Victorian era. You could tell the inn owners and designers had put their whole heart into the renovation and planning of the inn. Bob, commented that when they completed the renovation, the owners and staff stayed at the inn for a few weeks to help determine what the needs would be for someone staying there. It certainly paid off and the amenities are the result of this detailed planning. Bob also made suggestions for different days, such as a walk to Scarpino’s Gelato, the bike trail and other city services.
My favorite time at the inn was evening when things cooled down. Sitting at a small table you can see a beautiful sunset with of view of Old Main on the university’s campus and enjoy a cool sparkling water. This was the perfect place to see a mid-summer’s night rain with some brief lightning and then downpour lasting for maybe an hour, relaxed and dream-like. Yes, I could certainly return to the Dickson St. Inn.
Out of this wood do not desire to go.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 3. 1
University of Arkansas
The first night back in Arkansas had to be a walk on the University of Arkansas campus. Stepping onto a long wide sidewalk with the large expanse of green grass, canopy-like trees and the beautifully lit Old Main building, I could feel my heart well up. It was just like when I used to live there. The summer night air was thick and warm with only a few people here and there. The cicadas sang continually in the trees and the walk on the campus so pleasant and calm. At night campus is lit with pleasant lights and there is a beautiful fountain in central campus. You could not ask for a better walking campus. With its distinguished old buildings, it has been home to many students, professors and dignitaries including former President Bill Clinton, Senator James William Fulbright and notable professors such as the distinguished Dr. Franklin S. Williams (Survivors, Heroes), Dr. David Edwards, Dr. John Locke (The Troika Technique), Dr. Robert Monson, Dr. James Brady (current Chair of Communications), Professor of Journalism, Larry Foley (PBS Emmy Award documentarian), Professor Art Hobson (Physics: Concepts and Connections) and Dr. Doug James (Arkansas Birds.)
The next day I found my name in the infamous Senior Walk. The University of Arkansas carves graduates names in its campus sidewalks with the year they graduate. I was overcome with joy to find my name on the sidewalk that I walked to class each morning at the end of Reagan St., the very street where I lived as a student. The Senior Walk is unique to the University of Arkansas campus and is a wonderful way to honor the students who walked the path to higher education and the dream of a better life. My own dream took me all the way to Los Angeles where I began at KCBS as an intern for television news, became the director for television services for the City of Beverly Hills, and then a CEO for a multi-media international production company. Who would have ever dreamed this would all unfold. Seeing my name on the sidewalk, I felt deep gratitude to President Abraham Lincoln, Senator Fulbright, President Bill Clinton and all the incredible people who helped and developed the University guiding young minds to think, to live, to create.
A special tour arranged by the university corporate liason, Kimberly Randle, was a highlight of the University visit. She arranged for a personal meeting and tour of the television department with Larry Foley. This beautifully designed facility was complete with television production studios, control room, edit bays and audio booths. Foley has done a wonderful job developing the television program at the University of Arkansas. I walked into a studio and control room and found a facility that is just like the many professional studios here in Los Angeles. Students have an excellent opportunity to learn and develop necessary skills to work in the marketplace. The University has it’s own television station that you can visit at http://uatvonline.net.
Old Friends and New
Only a cool place like Fayetteville would have a high school reunion, but then open it up to anyone who attended the University of Arkansas or had any kind of connection to Fayetteville at all. Come one, come all! Utilizing Facebook proved a perfectly modern way to bring the myriads of reunionites together. As it turned out, many of my college buddies attended Fayetteville High School unbeknownst to me. Bands volunteered to play, patio club parties were arranged at Jose's and George's Majestic Lounge, a picnic at Lake Wedington, and a full weekend for people to get together and have a good time. It was more than a reunion, it was a welcome home to Fayetteville and the turn out was big, very big. The picture featured here is the Amazing Zach Bair, who once attended Fayetteville High School, but now lives in Memphis. When Zach heard about the reunion he rolled into town with his world traveling band, No Control. They played in the heat of a 90 degree day at Jose's restaurant patio drinking tons of water and rockin' the house. It was just like stepping back in time to a regular college party with live entertainment so prevalent in Fayetteville, a participatory life.
Fayetteville was certainly a part of the South during the Civil War. The Prairie Grove Battle Ground is just fifteen minutes to the west of Fayetteville in Farmington. At one time it was a simple two-lane road out in the country, now it has a double four lane highway. Although the road has modernized, the feel of the country is still there and you pull off on side simple road to visit the battle grounds. A walk through the grounds, you can see the old farm house and apple orchard where soldiers fought for their lives. Standing on the hilltop you can envision where the northern soldiers crept us the hill and soldiers fought in the woods and on the farm. I could not help but eat an apple from the tree, and I imagine the soldiers back in time ate foods grown on homesteads and farms during the war to survive. There is a small museum and information provided to visitors about the battle, but the best part of the park is taking the loop around walk through the park and reading at turns along the path the plagues and signs about what happened there.
More places to visit that are very special and close to Fayetteville include Eureka Springs and Beaver Lake.
Thanks to our many friends from Arkansas:
Spann Wilson, Lester Niblock, Dinny Bullard, Joy Bizzell, John Peace, Dr. Doug James and Liz James, Jan Foster, Gay Adair, Dr. Franklin S. Williams, Patricia Faust, Dr. John Locke, Barb Chaon, Lesley Swenson, Andrew Kilgore and Mike Villines.
Last Updated (Wednesday, 12 March 2014 11:58)