Craft House Client, Preacher's Son, Featured in Architectural Digest

Preacher’s Son Interior

Preacher’s Son Interior

Why Aesthetes Should Consider a Trip to Bentonville, Arkansas, and the Ozarks

Once derided as an avoidable backwater, northwest Arkansas is now rife with travel-worthy art and design, first-rate dining, and sublime natural beauty

By Anne Roderique-Jones for Architectural Digest

“Two decades ago, Bentonville, Arkansas, was not a tourist destination. The sleepy town in the Ozark Mountains was primarily known as a hub for Walmart—and a rest stop for those seeking out the rugged nature provided in this hamlet of America. The Ozarks—a swath of the mid-South that sits right below the Mason-Dixon line—comprises the southern region of Missouri, the northern corridor of Arkansas, and a tinge of Illinois, Oklahoma, and even Kansas. But it’s northwest Arkansas that’s bursting at the seams.”

A 2017 study conducted by Randy Cohen with Americans for the Arts concluded that the arts and culture industry in the region generated $131.2 million in economic activity in 2015, an impressive increase from the $45 million in activity just five years earlier.

Nelson Peacock, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council, tells AD, “We have nearly doubled in population over the past 20 years, and Bentonville was the fastest growing city in the state last year. The latest census data shows northwest Arkansas as the 14th-fastest-growing region in the nation.”

Three Fortune 500 companies—Walmart, Tyson Foods, and J.B. Hunt—are the largest employers in the area and have continued to make vast contributions to northwest Arkansas’s growth. Peacock says that 60 percent of the fastest-growing industries employ mostly high-wage professionals, and nearly 50 percent of job growth has come in the form of high-wage, professional careers. In fact, 60 percent of the people living in northwest Arkansas were not born in the region. And he’s one of them. “Many professionals are drawn here because of the availability of high-paying jobs, low cost of living, and access to world-class cultural and culinary options. When I moved my family here from the San Francisco Bay area, which we loved, I did it because of affordability and the availability of an easier way of life. My two daughters, five and seven, have already seen more live musicals than I did by the time I turned 30. And, if we need our big-city fix, the regional airport has direct flights to cities like Los Angeles, New York, and many others.”

…And while Bentonville has delivered as a cultural hub in middle America, it’s also managed to stay humble—marrying a big-city feel with down-home roots. You’ll find stylish boutiques, a handful of tony hotels, and a museum that anchors the corridor; combine that with a charming drawl and plenty of Southern cooking—often punctuated with a sophisticated flair—and you have the new Bentonville, Arkansas. Here, our design lovers' guide…

…Tuck into a meal at the Preacher’s Son, set in the former First Christian church in downtown Bentonville. The space was restored by architect Chip Chambers using John Ruskin’s Seven Lamps manifesto with art glass by George Dombek; the restaurant is a splendid structure. Chef Matt Copper, son of a Methodist preacher, partners with the area’s farmers, creameries, and orchards to deliver a terrific menu. (And pssst: The basement is home to Undercroft, an almost-unknown speakeasy.)

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