The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow (WCDH) is celebrating 20 years in 2020! It was in 1998 when prolific author and teacher, Crescent Dragonwagon, and her husband, writer and preservationist, Ned Shank, decided to transform the Dairy Hollow House, the renowned country inn and restaurant they operated for 18 years, into a writers' colony. After receiving 501(c)3 non-profit status in 1999, The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow was officially born and began accepting writers-in-residence in 2000. Over the past 20 years, WCDH has made a lasting impact on the arts and literary communities, hosting over 1,500 writers from 48 states and 13 countries.
WCDH provides writers-in-residence with the nurturing environment and quiet inspiration they need to reflect and focus on their writing away from the distractions of family, home, and work. One-week to three-month residencies are available, year-round, to writers of all levels and genres, without discrimination.
When residing at the colony, writers live and work in eight unique, private writing suites in two adjacent buildings on Spring Street in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The colony’s main building is at 515 Spring Street, formerly the Dairy Hollow House restaurant. It houses three suites, the colony's office, a great room for gatherings, and a commercial kitchen. One of the writing suites in the main building was renovated and refurbished in 2002 as a test kitchen with an outdoor cooking deck by Renovation Style magazine and KitchenAid. It is designed specifically for culinary writers and is the only dedicated culinary suite at a writers’ colony in the U.S.
The building next door, 505 Spring Street, a mid-century Usonian-style home, was purchased by Elise and Marty Roenigk in 2002 and donated to WCDH. In 2005, a grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program allowed WCDH to address major structural issues, stabilizing the building and preventing it from sliding down the hill upon which it is built. Structural work was completed in 2007, and an additional grant from the Arkansas Heritage/Arkansas Arts Council funded the restoration of the interior and creation of five writers’ suites.
The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow will celebrate its 20th anniversary with new programming, including workshops, readings, parties, and other literary events. Poetluck, an old favorite held the third Thursday of each month, will continue to offer the public the opportunity to hear WCDH writers-in-residence, as well as local writers, read their original work. In addition to the merit-based fellowships offered, a new needs-based scholarship fund has been established for writers with financial needs. Equity Bank of Eureka Springs generously provided the first major donation which covers the cost of a two-week residency for a deserving writer who could not otherwise afford it. Also, in conjunction with the 20th Anniversary, major capital improvements are planned, including the refreshing all eight writers’ suites along with new landscaping, guttering, flooring, and paving.
The addition of a Colony Coordinator, Chad Gurley, has resulted in improved visibility on social media, regular e-newsletters, and website updates. Chad launched a new podcast in 2019, “Write Now at the Writers’ Colony,” featuring interviews with and readings by WCDH writers-in-residence.
The new Executive Director of WCDH, Michelle Hannon, said, “We are excited about what is happening at The Writers’ Colony and humbled by the support we have received from our resident writers, the community, and our board of directors. 2020 will absolutely be a milestone year.”