In Partnership with the Southern Weekend

History comes alive

Explore a 19th Century community in Southwest Arkansas

Visit a town that is essentially a state park where history comes alive. A few miles northwest of Hope, Arkansas is the city of Washington. In the heart of the town sits structures built in the 19th century. The Historic Washington State Park covers over 40 buildings spread out over 10 blocks. Washington Historic State Park FlagYou can identify the historical buildings by the use of the special American flag with the stars in a circle (see picture.) Among some of the structures include homes from the mid 1800s, the Black History Museum, and a cotton gin.

Many local residents will dress up in period outfits to show you around or enjoy a surrey ride from one of the park’s rangers. Discover the many demonstrations scattered around the park. See how a printing press works or watch the candlemaker or the blacksmith. If you’re around for lunch, try Williams Tavern Restaurant for traditional Southern cuisine. Inside a former bank houses a large weapons exhibit including matchlocks, rifles, revolvers, and Bowie knives at the B.W. Edwards Weapons Museum. A notable fact is that the first Bowie Knife was forged in Washington.

Almost every weekend they host an event. You can learn how to safely harness and drive a mule team or stroll down candlelit streets admiring traditional Christmas decorations. See what’s coming up on their calendar site. Three of the big events in Washington include the Jonquil Festival in the spring, the Civil War Experience in the fall that commemorates Washington’s role as a capital city, and Christmas in Candlelight in December where you’ll see 19th century decorations and hear from wandering carolers.

Admission starts at $6 for adults and $3 for children ages 6-12. Start your journey into history at the 2-story 1874 Hempstead County Courthouse. School groups are welcome. You can see where history comes alive in Washington at their website.