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.
Something’s up in Kingston these days, though. It’s end of December 2021 as I write this, and I’ll return to update once the mystery is solved. 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 and the old Bunch building, which I believe were both purchased by the same buyer who is trying to buy the rest of it. I’ll update that assumption, too, if it proves to be mistaken.
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.
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 is a short term rental 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 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,
cafe, and bank. And we *used to have* two antique stores, a general mercantile, 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).
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.
A Pop-Up Art Show?
If you’d like to see any of my original artwork, I’d be happy to bring my tent down and set up an impromptu art show for you, too. I don’t have the time to go down and set up every weekend just to see if anyone will pass through and stop. But if you know you’re coming through and are interested in my Ozark pigment watercolor original art, I’ll be glad to put the tent in the car and make a pop-up!
Just email me to set up the day and approximate time you’ll be passing through town and I’ll be there with my earthy Ozark pigment nature paintings. You can see my online portfolio at MadisonWoods.art. If there’s a particular one you’re interested in, let me know. Sometimes they’re not on hand and are in shows. If that’s the case I can let you know.
Here’s a few of my favorites:
Looking for your dream hideaway in Kingston, Arkansas?
If you are interested in business or land-ownership opportunities in the Kingston area, please touch base with my daughter. She’s a real-estate agent for this area and specializes in helping buyers find their dream country home, farm, or ranch. You can also stop in at Ranch One Realty and talk to Craig, which is also the feed store owner. It’s right there on the square.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 and for sale.
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.
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!
I make watercolor paints (I call them Paleo Paints) from the lightfast pigments foraged from Madison county, Arkansas. Most of them are gathered from our own creeks here at Wild Ozark.
My inspiration is nature – the beauty, and the inherent cycle of life and death, destruction and regeneration.
We’re surrounded by it here in the remote hills of northwest Arkansas.
My Portfolio is at MadisonWoods.art
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