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~ Rock Foraging Nature Artist & Real Estate Agent in Kingston, AR ~

Madison Woods is my creative chosen name. My real name is Roxann Riedel, and aside from being a nature-loving artist, I’m a REALTOR® with Montgomery Whiteley Realty.

(479)409-3429, or email madison@wildozark.com

Kingston map, hand-drawn by Madison Woods.

Kingston, Arkansas | A Rural Ozark Town

There are some hidden treasures in the Ozarks. The tiny little town of Kingston, Arkansas in Madison county is one of them. It’s been my adopted home-base since 2005, when I moved up here from south Louisiana.

About Kingston

Our town historians John Little and Charlene Grigg have both passed on, and I didn’t take the time to gather information from them when I could have. So I’ve resorted to Wikipedia for the historical information. Kingston was born and named after King Johnson in 1853. That’s it. That’s all of the historical information at that source. I really, really, should have sat down with our historians before it was too late.

There are some wonderful comments below that add historical information about this area. I’m thankful to all of you who contributed!

Anyway, here’s a little about the modern-day Kingston. The town itself is tiny, consisting only of a simple square with a gazebo in the middle for the “downtown” portion and across the bridge heading north there is the school and a gas station. That comprises the “uptown”.

There are a few short term rentals near the square, and cabins in the surrounding area. Nearest hotels will be found in outlying larger towns and cities. I have a page on my site with local ‘home-away’ and cabin-type lodging. If you know of other places I can add to it, leave me a comment.

Population and Venues

Last I knew, the population was around 500. But most of the people live in the hills surrounding Kingston. And in those hills are a lot of crafty and artistic folks. There was at one time more evidence of that, because we had an art and craft gallery for a couple of years. Now you’ll just have to hope for serendipity to strike. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch Lisa out in front of the old Cob’s store with her wares. More about that below, under the Pop-Up Businesses heading.

What other kinds of businesses are there you ask? Well, we have a feed store, realtor, library, and bank. And we used to have two antique stores, a general mercantile, a cafe, and an art gallery, but now all but one of the antique stores are closed. Just out of the square, north on 21, we have a gas station/convenience store (it has a grill, too).

Pop-Up Businesses

On some weekends community members will set up a yard-sale or garage sale in the gazebo. And Lisa Davis, one of the square residents, has an assortment of crafts and critters she puts up in a pop-up show on weekends. It’s located at the old Cobb’s store, which is owned by her family but is no longer operated as a store. At her pop-up you’ll find plants, quail, chickens, ducks, rabbits, other random farm critters, and her arts and crafts.

Take a Slow Dirt Road Drive | Guided Tour

During summer, I’m offering Nature Experiences that include hiking, native plant identification, and nature journaling. It’s the perfect combination of nature and art. Or just nature if you’d rather leave out the art. There’s even an ATV/vehicle and handicap option for those who want or need to stay in their vehicles. Click the image below for more information.

click for more info

Passing through Alpena?

While I would love to have a Kingston venue for my art, it just isn’t an option at this time. Maybe that will change eventually. But in the meantime, if you’d like to see any of my original artwork, I have a studio and gallery on the main street through Alpena. That’s where you can see all of my original artwork for sale, or pick up prints or notecards featuring that work.

The hours are on Saturdays from 10-4 (March – until it gets too cold, but we try to stay open until the week before Christmas). If I won’t be there on a particular Saturday, I’ll post that information to my studio page: Studio Information

If you want to see originals on a weekday or during our off season, just email me to set up an appointment.

Here’s a few of my Kings River scenes. Still have Winter to do:

Looking for your dream hideaway in Kingston, Arkansas?

Roxann Riedel, Montgomery Whiteley Realty working in Madison, Newton, Carroll, and Boone counties in Arkansas.
I’d love to help you with your dream of off-grid, rural, and sustainable living in the wild Ozarks! I wear two hats with different names: Madison Woods when I’m wearing the artist hat, Roxann Riedel in real life and real estate.

Where the Heck is Kingston, Arkansas?

You’ll easily find it heading north on Highway 21 from Clarksville, AR (off of I-40) or by heading south on 21 (off of Hwy 412). See the map at the top of this post.

If you’re heading to Boxley or Ponca, you’ll already be in the vicinity.

Kingston Square Arts shop in Kingston, Arkansas.
No longer open, but here’s the old Bunch Trading Post . Most recently it was Kingston Square Arts shop in Kingston, Arkansas. There were iterations of other stores in here before, and likely will become something new again in the near future (hopefully). The building is historic and has interesting features to see inside, like the old ledgers from when it was an operating general store from the late 1800’s – late 1900’s.

I had a vested interest in Kingston Square Arts, and the store that existed in it’s location before. A little corner of the shop used to house my artwork. If you meant to stop in before it closed, but missed the window, you can email me about my artwork. My email address is madison@wildozark.com. If you were looking for pottery by Greg Hall, you can find him via his website at www.Oddbowlz.com.

Grandpa’s Antique Store

This iconic Kingston antique store and destination is closed now but may see new life in the coming years.

The Bank

The bank is also a historic building. Pretty much all of the buildings on the square are. Inside the bank you can see the old tin ceiling tiles and the old bank vault. Both are in the lobby.

Others

There’s also Bargain Buddy (antiques), the library (very small by most standards, but much larger than it used to be!), and a newly renovated building for Ranch One Realty & Feed store. There’s a gas station just off the square to the north that also serves food.

I’ve probably left something out, so if you’re reading this and want to mention another spot to stop in our town of Kingston, Arkansas, or talk about the history of Kingston, just leave a comment and let everyone know!

Changes are Coming

Something’s up in Kingston these days. It’s end of December 2021 as I write this, and I’ll return to update once the mystery is solved. (Mystery solved in the Nov 2023 update below). Here’s the question: Why is someone buying and trying to buy all of the houses and buildings around the square? If you know the answer, please do share. A lot of us out here would love to know.

In the meantime, I’ll be curiously waiting to see what is done with the café, the old mercantile, and the old Bunch building, which I believe were all purchased by the same buyer.

Update 11/6/23

Thanks to a newshound from Fayetteville who sent me this info this morning, here’s a link that explains who bought the buildings. There’s also some history about the old Bunch building in there, too:

https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2023/nov/06/waltons-buy-historic-buildings-in-kingston/

As a Kingston area resident and very small business owner, I’m watching this scene with a mixture of despair at how our small town vibe could change, and yet I do recognize it could bring opportunities for local businesses. But at what cost?

Finding out via news stories about plans and proposals initiated by non-residents that will bring a big change like this has been pretty unsettling for the locals who weren’t looking or asking for growth in the area. It’s not bittersweet, but entirely bitter to many here. The locals had a right to be involved with this from inception, not as an afterthought.

Here’s another story in the news regarding the proposed Buffalo River preserve and the town meeting in Jasper on Nov. 1: https://mcrecordonline.com/stories/locals-fight-to-preserve-way-of-life-around-buffalo-river,32810

Update 10/08/23

Apparently there’s some ideas being floated to turn a large swath of land surrounding the Buffalo River into a National Park Preserve. This could have something to do with all of the land buying over the recent years. More information is in an article in the Madison County Record (subscription required) https://mcrecordonline.com/stories/changes-floated-for-land-on-buffalo-river,29339, and at this post in the Our Buffalo River group on FB: https://www.facebook.com/groups/168981243448221/

Update 02/25/23

There’s been no change. The old Bunch Trading Post, the Valley café, and the old mercantile store are all still empty. As far as I know, they haven’t traded hands and are still being held by the person/corporation who bought them a few years ago. I haven’t seen any signs of progress towards doing anything with the buildings. If you have some news, please leave a comment below.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to open an art studio in a shared space in one of the old buildings in Alpena, AR. I will continue hoping that some opportunity opens up in Kingston, though.

Update 12/31/21

Kingston is about to become a busy little town. This is a double-edged sword. Most of us like the relative calm, peaceful, quiet small town life. But more traffic going through can offer good business opportunities, too. It would be nice if those opportunities got taken advantage of by the locals, but a two of the best properties were purchased by someone else – still don’t know who. Regardless of who bought them, this could benefit town residents by providing close jobs and other possible indirect opportunities. The rest of the small store owners on the square can position themselves to take advantage of it still, if they want to.

What’s going on? The old Dogpatch USA site on Hwy 7 near Jasper is about to get a makeover. Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, bought the property and plans to make a nature park out of it.

Why does that affect Kingston? Anyone going to the new park from areas north and northwest of us will most likely go through Kingston to get there. It’s what I consider to be the most scenic route, and it’s the most direct (as direct as anything is possible with our curvy, hilly roads). So that’s why investors have been contacting property owners in Kingston. Businesses, lodging, anything that caters to tourists will be great business ventures in the next few years. It will take some years before the park is drawing the traffic, but that day is fairly certain to happen in the not-too-distant future.

Contact Mad Rox: (479) 409-3429 or madison@madisonwoods and let me know which hat I need to put on 🙂 Madison for art, Roxann for real estate, lol. Or call me Mad Rox and have them both covered!

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