Eureka Springs' most historic home, Penn Castle, has as colorful a past as the town. Built in 1888 by Major William Evander Penn and his wife Corilla, the home is one of the region's finest examples of Victorian architecture. Penn was born in Tennessee in 1832 and was baptized into the Baptist faith at age 15. He became a lawyer at age 20 and joined the Confederate Army at 29. He was promoted to Major just before the war ended, and was a successful attorney until he became an evangelist at age 42. He was very articulate and had a strong voice and held revival meetings from Texas to California and became known as the "Texas Evangelist."
He preached in Scotland and England as well, and the inspiration for Penn Castle came from Nottingham and Hucknull castles in England. Two plain stones are built into the wall on each side of the front door bearing the two names. Penn also oversaw the building of the Penn Memorial First Baptist Church in downtown Eureka Spring down Mountain Street from Penn Castle. The home noted for its beautiful stained-glass windows and unique architectural details was featured on the HGTV program "If Walls Could Talk."
In the 1950s, the home was purchased by Gerald K. Smith and his wife Elna, known for establishing the Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs. The Smiths found great satisfaction sitting on the home's east facing balcony observing the construction of the Christ of the Ozarks statue.
The first room in the home was Penn's study, known as the "Prophet's Chamber," as noted by the stained-glass transom above the built-in book shelf. Other features of the entry room include a beautiful Victorian Eastlake fireplace with an imported Italian tile surround, the main staircase with a carved newel post featuring a quill pen, and a beautiful stained-glass window. Large pocket doors opened into the home's main parlor with exquisite religious themed stained-glass double windows under a stained-glass arch. Filigree molding accent the high ceiling and the floors are solid oak. A spacious dining room and powder room are off the parlor. The back portion of the main floor has a spacious kitchen with plenty of cabinets and counter workspace. A breakfast nook off the kitchen has more stained-glass windows and French doors onto the back deck. On the opposite side of the kitchen is a sun room with a stained-glass transom over French doors that also go out to the back deck.
The second floor has a master bedroom with two large windows with a stained-glass arch and a period dressing mirror with a hidden cabinet. The adjoining master bathroom has a cozy bay window with a bench seat, a row of closets, a custom double vanity with porcelain sinks, and a sunken bathtub under a beautiful stained-glass window. A small balcony in the master bath overlooks the greenbelt. The second floor parlor features another Eastlake fireplace mantel with Italian tile surround and more stained-glass windows. A door opens onto the second floor porch with views of East Mountain and Christ of the Ozarks. A second bath with a leaded glass window, a guest bedroom and a sitting room or third bedroom complete the second level.
The third floor has two large rooms with beautiful wood floors and nice window lighting that could serve as bedrooms or an office. The east room has a raised floor alcove with three beautiful Gothic style stained-glass windows which was believed to be the Penn's prayer room.
There is a small apartment in the basement entered by a set of stairs in the kitchen that would have served as the maid's quarters. The space has a porcelain farm sink in the kitchenette and sitting area and there is a full bath. A French door opens onto a lower level patio.
The home's original wrought iron fence still stands in the front yard. There is off-street parking next to the house through a wrought iron gate and there are several additional parking spaces across the street on a vacant lot that conveys with the house.
For more information, call Mark Mattmiller at (479) 981-0513
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