Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow

The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow (commonly called “the colony”) in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) was established in 1998 by author Crescent Dragonwagon and her husband, artist and historic preservationist Ned Shank. It has become a nonprofit residence for writers of all genres, as well as artists and composers, and serves as a center for writing-related workshops and events.

The main house of the colony’s two side-by-side buildings is a small Ozark vernacular–style house that was opened as Dairy Hollow House, a bed-and-breakfast, in 1980 by Dragonwagon, Shank, and Little Rock (Pulaski County) musician Bill Haymes. It was the second bed-and-breakfast to be opened in Arkansas and became known nationally for its “Nouveau’Zarks” cuisine. In 1986, the inn expanded with the purchase of a second building nearby (“the farmhouse”). Dragonwagon and Shank closed the Dairy Hollow House business in 1998 and created the nonprofit Writers’ Colony.

The colony was founded in 2000 with the mission “to provide uninterrupted residency time for writers of all genres, including culinary, composers and artists, to work and to interact with the wider community to stimulate new thinking and energize creative expression.” Dragonwagon moved away in 2000 after Shank’s death, and a nonprofit board took over the operation of the colony, employing an executive director and a cook/housekeeper.

In 2004, Elise and Martin Roenigk purchased the property next door (“505”) and donated it to the colony. That house was built in the 1950s by retired doctor Edna Dieley and was influenced by architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian style. From 2006 to 2012, fundraising and grants supported structural repairs and improvements, as did the sale of the farmhouse in 2011. The 505 house opened in the fall of 2012, offering writing suites, a fully equipped kitchen, a breakfast nook, a conference room, and two communal decks.

The writers’ residency program offers numerous fellowships, and writers stay in one of eight quiet, sequestered suites for a week to three months. Gourmet, family-style meals are served on weeknights, when writers can share time with other residents. Each suite has its own personality and view of historic Dairy Hollow. The colony is the only writers’ retreat in North America with a suite and full modern kitchen dedicated to writing by culinary professionals.

The colony offers numerous programs and events, including a monthly literary salon called Poetluck and many writing workshops. Residents volunteer to do readings and book signings, conduct workshops, or donate their time to community outreach events. Each May, during Eureka Springs’ White Street Walk, the colony offers poetry-on-demand as a fundraiser. For a few dollars, participants can have an on-the-spot poem written expressly for them. A weekly writers’ group that meets at the colony initiated the Five & Dime Drama Collective to write and produce short plays by novice playwrights. This led in 2017 to the colony establishing an online magazine, eMerge, a platform for writers and artists to publish and promote their work. The colony also collaborates in arts advocacy with such groups as the Eureka Springs School of the Arts, the Eureka Springs Arts Council, and the Carroll and Madison Public Library Foundation for their Books in Bloom literary festival. In 2020, the colony began celebrating its twentieth anniversary by renovating and refurbishing its writers’ suites, offering a podcast program and a vibrant schedule of workshops, and awarding its first needs-based scholarship.

For additional information:
eMerge Magazine. https://emerge-writerscolony.org/ (accessed December 29, 2020).

Ford, Kody. “A Room of One’s Own: The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow Gives Writers the Solace They Need to Be Productive.” Idle Class Magazine (November 6, 2015). Online at http://idleclassmag.com/dairyhollow/ (accessed December 29, 2020).

Sultan, Aisha. “Escaping to a Writer’s Colony in Eureka Springs, Ark.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2016. Online at https://www.stltoday.com/travel/escaping-to-a-writer-s-colony-in-eureka-springs-ark/article_88607660-3dfe-538b-9bcb-39915b520b17.html (accessed December 29, 2020).

Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow. http://www.writerscolony.org/ (accessed December 29, 2020).

Allyn Lord
Shiloh Museum of Ozark History


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