As a NWA wedding photographer, I spend a lot of time in different Northwest Arkansas wedding venues …definitely way more than the average bride has ever spent in them. I always share my favorite places with my clients, of course, but I wanted to take that a step further and put some of these amazing places right up here on my blog for the whole world to see and read about! I mean, the people behind these venues work so hard for their sweet brides and grooms and deserve a little time in the spotlight!
I’m thrilled to start this Arkansas wedding venues series with one of my favorite, classiest venues in NWA: The Inn at Carnall Hall. Here in Northwest Arkansas – a.k.a. Razorback Country – we are a people obsessed with the beautiful University of Arkansas right down highway 49 from me in Fayetteville. The Inn at Carnall Hall is located on the U of A campus and is a venue rich with history dating back to 1905. That makes it over 100 years old!
As soon as you walk up onto (any of the three) gorgeous, large southern porches, it’s immediately obvious that the craftsmanship and care that builders in 1905 put into their buildings is still very much intact and as beautiful as the day Carnall Hall was completed.
I went to take the photos of the Inn last week, and I was so tickled to find some gorgeous fresh florals from Jules Design and several copies of one of my favorite magazines in Arkansas (heyyyy Arkansas Bride!) in the lobby. What great companies for the Inn to partner up with!
I’m a little bit of a sucker for an amazing historic building and wanted to know more about this one, so I sent a short interview over to the beautiful and talented events staff (Hayley and Sabra – these girls know what’s up!) and I’d love to share the information they sent to me with you. Enjoy these photos and interesting history about this great venue’s past!
What is your venue’s name and location?
Inn at Carnall Hall at 465 Arkansas Ave, Fayetteville
What is your name, and what do you do at the venue?
Sabra Rochell – Sales and Events Manager and Hayley James – Sales and Events Coordinator
When was your venue built?
Was it always an event space? If not, what was it?
Ella Carnall Hall, built as a women’s dormitory in 1905 (finished in 1906), was one of six new buildings on the campus completed that year. Carnall Hall ceased being used for academic purposes in 1991, when the restoration of Old Main created more space for academic departments. A chain link fence was placed around the unused building. Carnall Hall continued to deteriorate and by the late 1990’s had become a candidate for demolition.
Ella Carnall Hall took on new life on October 2, 2001 when the University’s board of trustees approved a plan for a private developer, Carnall Inn Development Co., LLC (CIDC, Inc), to turn the structure into a historic hotel and restaurant. James Lambeth was the lead architect for the project, with May Construction Company as the contractor.
What is your favorite thing about hosting weddings?
The reward of all the hard work when the bride is happy walking down the aisle.
What is your favorite thing about your venue?
The outdoor space, history and location!
What is your best advice for brides and grooms booking with you?
Book as early as possible! Leave yourself time to plan details so you can enjoy the process and not stress because you are rushed.
Are there any interesting stories about the history of your venue?
Carnall Hall was a priority for the campus. There had been no dormitory for young women while two new ones had been built for young men – Buchanan Hall and Hill Hall, neither of which remains today. Carnall Hall was designed to be an island unto itself, with its own kitchen, dining room, toilets and bathrooms, and an independent steam heating plant.
The placement of Carnall Hall on the extreme Northeast corner of campus was no accident. It was put the farthest possible distance from the men’s dorms. The strict separation of the sexes on college campuses was standard practice until the last third of the 20th century.
Ella Carnall Hall was accepted for listing on the National Register for Historic Places in December, 1982.
Carnall Hall was no longer used for a women’s dormitory after 1967, by which time more modern residence halls had been built. In 1969, Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity began using Carnall Hall as its Fraternity house, remaining until 1977. The anthropology and Geography department joined them in 1979.
What is the thing you most commonly hear brides and grooms love about your venue?
The rich history and location!
Do you have any plans for growth/updates to the venue?
Yes – we have updates planned for Winter 2017 – Spring 2018. Soft surfaces will be updated throughout the property, including sleeping rooms.
Do you ever host other events?
Yes, lots of University of Arkansas Events are held here. We also love to host Bridal Luncheons, Rehearsal Dinners, Showers, Birthday Parties, etc.
Any lessons you had to learn the hard way?
Most of the management team and sales team is new – so we are all still learning!
What is the best way to contact your venue for information about booking?
479-582-0400 – ask to speak to the events staff!
Readers, thank you so much for stopping by to check out this first post in my series of Arkansas wedding venues!