Learn the story of Laughlin House, its history, some fun facts, and its conversion to a premier downtown Bentonville, Arkansas inn.
Laughlin House History
This Eastlake Victorian cottage, built c. 1895 by R. J. Laughlin, is located in the heart of downtown Bentonville, Arkansas, a thriving community in beautiful Northwest Arkansas.
Laughlin House has been referred to as the grandest specimen of the Eastlake Victorian style in Arkansas. Laughlin’s daughter, Phoebe (“Ebe”) Laughlin, ran a boarding house out of these walls for many years in the early 20th century, where she also served lunch to workers and patrons of the Bentonville Square. The house was later divided into apartments and fell into disrepair over the decades. In 1998 the house was lovingly restored into its present, elegant condition, and in 2010 was purchased by Don and Jenny Wallace, who set about transforming it into a charming inn full of character and personality.
About Our Bentonville, Arkansas Inn
Laughlin House features richly appointed rooms with a mixture of Victorian charm, stately elegance, contemporary comfort and a sprinkling of whimsy. With original caramel-hued pine and oak woodwork, pine and oak floors, stained and etched glass, beautiful beamed ceilings and stunning craftsmanship, every room in the house will captivate guests and embrace them with luxury and the comforts of home.
Wander through the shaded, park-like setting of the front and east yards featuring winding brick paths and beautiful maple and oak trees, or relax in the gazebo draped in wisteria vines.
Laughlin House offers excellent lodging for small gatherings, including corporate retreats, girlfriend getaways, wedding parties, family reunions, sightseeing groups, bicycling teams, crafters and artists, and more.
About the Laughlins
According to the Rogers Historical Society, the Laughlin family moved to Bentonville from Louisville, Kentucky in 1881. Reuben J. Laughlin (1840-1891 — date unconfirmed) sold clocks, watches, jewelry and silverware. He was a confederate soldier, enlisting in December 1861 in Company A, First Kentucky Cavalry, Confederate States Army, and was involved in the battles at Fort Donelson, Perryville, Murfreesborough and several other “severe skirmishes”.
After he was discharged from military service, he moved back to Kentucky and married Phebe A. Herrin, and had three children: William A., Robert E., and Phoebe. Laughlin was a general merchant in Nebo, Ky., until 1878, when he moved to Louisville and opened a commission warehouse. In 1881, his health failing, he came to Bentonville, where he sold clocks, watches, jewelry and silverware. He was a Mason, a Past Grand High Priest of Kentucky and in 1888 was Worshipful Master of Lodge and High Priest of the Bentonville chapter.
Phoebe (Ebe) Laughlin (1876-1974), who ran a boarding house out of these walls in the early 20th Century, was known for her musical talent; her grandfather, William Laughlin, had been a fifer in the Battle of New Orleans. Music was often heard coming from the house, as Ebe practiced several instruments and performed in programs at the opera house and church.
She also served lunch to workers and patrons of the downtown area.
About the innkeepers
Jenny and Don Wallace own and operate Laughlin House along with their Bassett Hound mix Twinkie. Both are Arkansas natives. Although Don grew up in Fayetteville/Springdale, and Jenny is from Stuttgart (go Ricebirds!), they consider Bentonville ‘home sweet home’. They’ve been married 17.5 years and are still going strong.
Don is your weekend breakfast chef (and maybe a little weekday breakfast prep before he heads off to his day job), and Jenny handles the day-to-day innkeeping responsibilities — everything from receptionist, host, housekeeper and lawn maintenance to marketing, PR and communications.
They love sharing their home with guests from all over the world, giving recommendations and ideas for things to see and do, and being unofficial Bentonville ambassadors.
Other Fun Facts About Our Bentonville, Arkansas B&B
- It is of the Eastlake Victorian style. It has been called “very likely the greatest Eastlake Victorian cottage in northwest Arkansas”, as presented by the Peel House Foundation in 2002.
- The front brick walk is believed to be one of only two examples of an original herringbone pattern left in Bentonville. The other example is at the James Rice House at 204 SE 3rd St.
- The home was once a boarding house.
- Some accounts refer to the home as being established in 1891. Others, circa 1895.
- The house was once divided into five apartments and fell into disrepair for several decades.
- It was meticulously restored to its present condition from 1998 to 2000.
- The current owners, Don and Jenny Wallace, purchased the home in July 2010, opened the doors of Laughlin House as a bed and breakfast in August 2011.
- It briefly served as office headquarters for the Bentonville Film Festival in its inaugural year, 2015.