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The Bella Vista Water Tank sits on a small, triangular piece of land at the corner of Cunningham Drive and Cedar Crest Drive in Bella Vista (Benton County). It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 14, 1992.
The three Linebarger brothers, who developed the original summer resort of Bella Vista, had the 55,000-gallon tank built of native fieldstone in 1927 at a cost of $5,500. The tank was built to provide water to part of their Lake Bella Vista Summer Resort, which they had opened in 1917. The stone mason was Willard Glenn Braithwaite of Bentonville (Benton County).
Below the Big Spring just east of Bella Vista Lake, the Linebargers installed hydraulic rams to pump the water from the spring through a pipeline to the water tank about a mile west of the lake. The construction of the water tank in 1927 allowed water to be ready to be gravity fed down to the summer cabins along the west side of the lake. Clarence A. Linebarger wrote his two brothers on December 4, 1927, that “our big water tank that is 30 ft. in diameter inside and 9 ft high, being round, has been full to the top one week today and less than one quarter of an inch loss.”
When the Linebargers sold the Lake Bella Vista Resort in 1952 to E. L. Keith, they did not include the property on which the water tank stands, a fact discovered through research conducted by the Bella Vista Historical Society in 2013–2014. A legal description of the property was drawn up, and the remaining Linebarger descendants, three granddaughters of Clarence A. Linebarger, signed quit claim deeds in 2015 to transfer ownership to the historical society.
The roof on the tank had completely collapsed inward, so the society obtained a grant from the Benton County Historical Preservation Commission in 2015 to replace the roof. The task was completed in 2016 by the Benton County Jail Work Detail Team under the direction of Deputy Sheriff Mark Wibert. An overgrown road along the north side of the property was cleared for vehicle parking during tours of the property. A 1928 Linebarger map shows that road marked as Sunset Drive, which would have led down to the Sunset Hotel, but the streets in the area were redrawn and renamed when Cooper Communities opened the retirement village of Bella Vista in 1965.
When the water tank was placed on the National Register in 1992, it was listed as being at the corner of Suits Us Drive and Punkin Hollow Road, but the 1928 map clearly has it marked at the corner of Cedar Crest Drive and Sunset Drive. At the time the building permit was granted in the spring of 2016 to re-roof the tank, the property was given the 911-emergency address of 10000 Cedar Crest Drive.
For additional information:“Bella Vista Water Tank.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/BE1718.nr.pdf (accessed October 21, 2016).
Xyta Lucas Bella Vista Historical Society
Last Updated 11/8/2016
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