About ten minutes from downtown Arkadelphia, Arkansas, Billy and Kathie have built a Wedding and Event venue that really must be seen to be believed. At first glance, from a distance, you get a little buzz because it looks like the beginnings of a Wild West feature in an amusement park – a little bit of a Silver Dollar City feel. Then, as you get a little closer, it feels more like a movie set – and you perk up a little more, like maybe you’ll see John Wayne come sauntering out of the bank at any second.
As cool as these images are, they pale when you get right up to the place and start to learn a little more about it.
There are four magnificent light fixtures from the Memphis Train Station. They are four of only eight in the world, and the other four hang in one of the Ford buildings in Michigan.
The street lamps were actually dug up (accidentally) in Memphis when a house was being torn down. It’s believed they were buried to be hidden from the authorities during one of the World Wars when metal was in such high demand. Like the bank’s lamps, they’ve been converted from gas to electric.
The columns on the bank front are off of an old house in Mississippi. The columns on the church are from Tennessee, there’s a water tower onsite, and the front of a mercantile store.
There’s also, and get a load of this, a rustic old barn with a very nice brick apartment upstairs. They call it their “farm-diminium”…and it won’t do any good to challenge the spelling of that because we made it up!
Inside is seven thousand square feet of gorgeous, relentless attention to detail. The truss beams were taken from a torn down warehouse in Houston. They’re so long that the delivery driver had to take back roads late at night to avoid attention from the law. The webbing in the trusses is made from fresh cut cedar trees from the Texas hill country.
There’s a bar, inside. They named it The Dime after the first steamboat to make its way up and down the Ouachita River built by Jacob Barkman, and according to the local workers, “it weren’t no bigger than a dime!”
And, there’s a fireplace, though fireplace is not nearly a big enough word to describe this thing. An average man can stand straight up in it and spread both arms wide without touching anything. Billy had to continually reassure his supplier that the order for two thousand firebricks wasn’t a mistake. You see, an average fireplace only requires about two hundred firebricks. Maybe a better visual would be the fact that it rivals the size of the fireplaces you may have seen at Bass Pro Shops. It’s huge.
They also thought to thoroughly overdo the climate control. We’ve all been to weddings or parties where the heating or cooling system just couldn’t handle the job. With a state-of-the-art climate control system, it won’t be a problem at Blakelytown.
And speaking of the name of the place, Blakelytown is another homage to history. Around 1809, two gentlemen, Adam Blakely and John Hemphill settled in the site that would eventually be renamed as Arkadelphia in 1839. Nobody knows for sure how they decided on the name, maybe a coin flip, but they called their new home, Blakelytown.