How Thorncrown Chapel's History Adds To The Eureka Springs Charm
Eureka Springs, Arkansas has always been a unique and beautiful mountain community. They offer the world a retreat amidst the Ozarks that is friends and quaint with victorian style architecture, local artisans and friendly inclusive community members. You never know what you will find in Eureka and that is part of its charm.
In 1979, well before the Eureka we know today was established Jim Reed, a Pine Bluff, Arkansas native met E. Fay Jones and embarked upon a project which would add a layer of intrigue to the area even today.
It began when Jim purchased a plot of land in 1971 in the heart of the mountains. Originally this was purchased for him to build his revetment home. It was a prime piece of property, located only a short distance from the community fo Eureka Springs. This properties position always held captive the imaginations of others as he would allow people to visit the beautiful location. One day he had a vision that he and his wife should build a glass chapel to welcome all those who were already coming to the area and inspire them uniquely.
It was not long after that Jim and E. Fay were introduced. Jones was a professor at the University of Arkansas. When they began to discuss the idea of the glass church it struck a chord with both of them and quickly began to take shape. From that point on the project came together quickly. However much like anything that is set to be great, a challenge arose and as funds dwindled the project was through to be a lost dream.
Jim continued to scramble in hopes of finding the funds to finish this vision and had almost given up entirely and took a walk toward the chapel for what he thought would be his final time as the vision had fallen apart, and that is when his life changed. Jim described the experience he had on that trip to be one that changed his life as there was a divine intervention.
Only a few short days later the funding for his dream was realized as a donor from Illinois came through and by July 10, 1980 the completion of the Thorncrown Chapel was complete.
With 425 widows spanning 6,000 square feet and 100 tons of native stone used the chapel is artful and one which will amaze you when approaching. It has gone on to be recognized as a place of historical significance in the US, an honor not often bestowed on structures under 50 years of age.
Since its completion over 6 million people have visited the structure and with regularly held non-denominational services, weddings and special events held at the property, Jim’s visitor truly was realized as it provides not only Eureka Springs with a hidden wonder, but the state of Arkansas and all those who visit with a glimpse at just how amazing the vision can be when realized.
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