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Lowell Historical Museum Cherishes History, Envisions Future with New Building, New Name

Posted by: JustinFreeman on Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Situated in the center of the region, Lowell is often referred to as the heart of Northwest Arkansas. The Lowell Historical Museum has seen a lot of changes come through Northwest Arkansas over the years, and it is striving to protect the history of the city that sits in the middle of one of the fastest-growing metros in the country. Understanding the History of Lowell Led by Museum Director Elizabeth Estes, the museum preserves and interprets historical objects and works of art that build a bridge of culture and understanding of the history of Lowell as well as the greater Northwest Arkansas region. It also honors the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families. Estes says the museum is a vital part of the fabric of Lowell. “If we didn’t have a museum, we wouldn’t know our history,” she said. “If we didn’t know our history we wouldn’t remember what we have proudly accomplished, which also helps us envision our future." “Mudtown” The city was founded in 1847 as Robinson’s Crossroad, and the name was changed to Bloomington in 1858. It would later earn the nickname “Mudtown” after a private stagecoach operating out of Butterfield, Mo. got stuck in the mud, leading its frustrated driver to exclaim that he must be in Mudtown. Lowell celebrates the nickname each year with the Annual Mudtown Festival. The town was destroyed by a tornado in 1881 and was given the current name of Lowell after it was relocated next to the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad tracks. A Dream Come True Founder Elza Tucker’s dream for a museum started in 1976, but it wasn’t until June 1, 2003 when then-Mayor Phil Biggers cut the ribbon and opened the permanent location of the museum, which has now outgrown its current facility at 304 Jackson Pl. In 2014, Leonard Johnson donated 100 acres of land to the City of Lowell in memory of his wife, Kathleen. The museum was then granted three acres that they will use to build a new facility at 403 Bellview Road. An approximately 11,000-square-foot building will be built to house current artifacts as well as make room for future exhibits. The museum’s plans include: • Veterans’ Room • Children’s Room • Community Room for public meetings and/or family events • Café for sandwiches and cold drinks • Lobby with the Butterfield Stagecoach at the center • Covered outdoor space for farm and agriculture implements • 6,000 square feet of exhibit space • Storage and receiving areas • Rose Garden in memory of Kathleen Johnson • Offices and restrooms “This 100-acre park will be a popular place for families to visit in Lowell and will be the center point for development in the city,” Estes said. “We also envision it being a must-stop for visitors in Northwest Arkansas.” New Museum, New Name The land will feature several monuments, recreational and educational activities, and other businesses. There will also be a significant emphasis on honoring Northwest Arkansas military veterans. As part of the relocation, the museum will be changing its name to “The Trails: A Convergence of History”. “We want to invite the community to get involved with the museum as much as we can,” said Carol Kick, President of the Lowell Historical Museum Foundation of NWA. “We would like teachers and community leaders to speak at our programs making them a focal point. We want the new museum to be an inclusive experience that will complement all of the other outstanding museums in our area and make it something for those who love Lowell to be very proud.” The expanded space will give the museum more room to showcase everything about Lowell and the region. “There are a lot of people who have wanted to bring items to exhibit in our museum, but we are full right now,” Estes said. “We are excited to have additional space with the new museum so that we can add more exhibits and make the experience even more enjoyable.” Lowell has seen its population rise from just under 300 people when it was founded, to now nearly 9,000. This increase is due in part to the infusion of businesses into the area such as J.B. Hunt, headquartered just minutes from the museum. The new museum will likely feature a spectacular J.B. Hunt exhibit when it opens. “We are definitely a trucking town now,” Estes said. “Transportation has done a lot for our local economy, industry and the overall growth of Lowell.” Celebrating History and Making New History While the museum’s goal is to celebrate Lowell’s history, they are continuously looking toward the future. “Properly preserving and sharing our city's history over the years has made it necessary to make new history by building a contemporary facility that will serve as an educational center for many generations to come on the Kathleen Johnson Memorial Park property,” Lowell Mayor Eldon Long said. “It will have access to the Razorback Regional Greenway Trail system. The City of Lowell has a rich heritage and we look forward to working together with the community in bringing this vision to reality.”

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