by Steve Fellers
Under the management of the David Goodman family of Arkadelphia, the Captain Henderson House will reopen in August as an inn and event venue.
Henderson State University recently reached a lease agreement with the Goodmans, who hope to put the historic home to good use by offering a memorable overnight lodging experience, and providing a unique, historic atmosphere for weddings, meetings, and the like.
David and Karrie Goodman have owned and run Mary & Martha’s Florist and Gifts in Arkadelphia for 16 years. Addy Murphree, their daughter, will manage the Captain Henderson House.
“A while ago, Henderson put out an inquiry for someone to run the house. That was the first thought of possibility for us,” said Murphree. “It wasn’t until this year, however, that we started tangibly dreaming about the hands we could extend in our community.
“We saw this beautiful home, a beautiful testament to both Henderson and Arkadelphia, and we felt we had the ability to bring it back to life as an act of service to the places we love so dearly.”
Murphree’s grandmother, Marsha Whalen, served as a part-time innkeeper at the Henderson House for 12 years, and often arrived early to make breakfast for guests. Murphree and her mother would sometimes accompany Whalen. When the house had an open room, they would sometimes sleep over.
“She [Whalen] has been helping us this summer clean rooms and organize the kitchen,” Murphree said. “It has been such a sweet time because the Captain Henderson House had meant so much to her back then, and now she gets to be back in it with her family.”
The 9,000-square-foot Victorian mansion began as a small cottage in 1876, and was expanded in 1906 and in the 1920s. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Henderson State purchased the house in 1979 and converted it to a museum. Following an extensive renovation project in 1999, The Captain Henderson House reopened as an on-campus bed and breakfast inn, until it closed in 2020 due to COVID.
“When this opportunity came along with the Goodmans, it seemed like a perfect fit with their community involvement and a business already established in Arkadelphia,” said Bernadette Hinkle, Henderson State’s vice chancellor for finance and administration. “With this partnership, I know it’s going to be successful, and I believe that the whole community will benefit from it. I’m excited for what they can do.”
Hinkle said the property still belongs to Henderson State.
“What we have agreed to is that the Goodmans will pay for their operation expenses, and Henderson will pay for its own expenses,” Hinkle said. “It’s a lease arrangement. The property is ours, and we want to keep it that way.
“This arrangement will be wonderful for the community and campus. And it will be open for the campus to use.”
Murphree said her family’s vision is “to see this home as a bustling piece of history for those visiting loved ones in town and on campus, academic trips, wedding celebrations, baby showers, corporate meetings, reunions, and community events.”
“We offer a commercial kitchen open for our customers’ choice of event catering companies, eight rooms ready for a night’s rest, two dining areas for meetings, a wraparound porch for visiting, and a manicured lawn just itching for celebrations,” she said.
“We hope to attract those who love Arkadelphia and what it means to us all,” Murphree said. “Whether that be Henderson alumni, Ouachita lovers, Badger supporters, family visitors – we want the Henderson House to be the front porch to our town, welcoming every last guest who loves it as much as we do.”
The family has been busy this summer preparing the Henderson House for its opening.
“The inside will look different only as the house has been scrubbed, organized, and filled with flower arrangements,” Murphree said. “The Henderson House was historically redone when it was reopened as a bed and breakfast more than 20 years ago and filled with pieces accurate to the home itself.
“We didn’t want to change that work and the gifts of Henderson’s donors. So, this summer we focused on finding ways to freshen it up.”
Murphree is determined to make the Henderson House a success.
“We really want to see this business succeed, both for the sake of restoring something so special to our community and to Henderson,” she said. “This project is more than just a business endeavor for us. We see it as an opportunity to bring something back to Arkadelphia and to the university.”
The Captain Henderson House will be open to reservations after August 11. A ribbon cutting and grand opening will be announced soon.