Construction of Peel Museum: The Peel Museum is considered a remarkable example of the Italianate style that was popular in Arkansas from the 1840s to 1890s.The house has many of the features that characterize this architectural style. This includes the hipped roof that slopes down on four sides and appears almost flat. It also includes the rectangular tower, the large, bracketed cornices, and the narrow, arched windows.
Samuel West Peel bought the land in 1872. When structures were built on a property, the owner had to pay more in taxes for that land. In 1874, Peel’s property tax doubled, suggesting that construction began that year. In 1875, the house was completed, and the family moved in. It totaled 14 rooms and had two stories plus a basement and tower.
It is unknown who the main architect or contractor was for the house; however, the work of specific craftsmen is known. The brick and stone were supplied by John Braithwaite. He was the owner of the first brickyard in Bentonville. It is possible that the brick was laid by Goldsmith Davis, Braithwaite’s master bricklayer.
A later owner in the 1920s added the grey stucco that now covers the house. Attempts to remove it to reveal the initial façade have failed because of the fragile condition of the original bricks. The house had eight coal fireplaces. Each one had a distinctive mantelpiece constructed by John C. Sheffield.
Interesting Fact: Legend says that during their courtship Samuel West Peel promised Mary Emaline that he would build her a house like the ones she remembered from her childhood in Alabama. This house is the fulfillment of that promise.