Anne Prichard visited the family farm near Kessler Mountain, just south of Fayetteville, every summer when she was a little girl.
“I grew up coming to the farm in the summer because it was so hot in Houston before the air conditioning turned on, and there weren’t that many mosquitoes here,” says Prichard, 83.
She loved watching the bugs that burrowed into the sandy road, the pigeons that flew in and out of the barn, and the chickens and pigs that roamed around. She remembers her uncle, who stayed on the farm after her siblings graduated and started their careers, treating the barn cats with the squirts of milk from the cows.
The family moved to the farm in Everton, Missouri, swapping their general store for 80 acres of pear and apple orchards in northwest Arkansas.
Prichard’s father, Benjamin Franklin Johnson III, had just graduated from Harvard University with a degree in landscape architecture when he designed the Great White Barn in 1933. The family paid 14 people $ 1 a day to build it. , taller than she really needed, during the Great Depression, she said.
By the time of his father’s death in 1991, the family had amassed nearly 400 acres, divided between Prichard and his brother.
Prichard helped view the 168-acre farm, including a 1925 craftsman-style house and barn, protected by a conservation easement with the nonprofit Northwest Arkansas Land Trust. She receives a tax credit each year, she says, which allows her to “take care of the pond and paint the barn.”
Prichard’s mother, a librarian from New York City, met his father while working in that state’s Green Belt towns, government-sponsored towns designed to provide low-cost housing to people during the Depression .
Prichard was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but her family moved to Houston when she was 3 months old.
She graduated early from Mills College in Oakland, Calif., And used the money allocated for final year expenses to fund a visit to American museums, ending with a summer art session in Cambridge. She returned to Houston and audited architecture and philosophy courses at Rice University.
“I wasn’t really prepared for such a great experience,” she says. “There were too many interesting young men in the Boston area. I was going out all the time – too often – instead of having a good academic record.”
She became an assistant to the curator at the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio, and saved money to travel to Europe the following year. Back in Houston, after her trip, she spends her time painting and visiting museums.
She was working at a Carnegie library in Houston when a college friend who owned a gallery in La Jolla, Calif., Asked her for help.
“I drove a small Morris Minor car in California and lived in Delmar and worked in La Jolla,” she says. “I had the chance to see the Pacific Ocean everyday and watch the sunset from the beach. I was so lucky.”
She was accepted into the University of California at Berkeley, and her father encouraged her to leave his car at home and concentrate on her grades. This strategy worked – she got a scholarship for the second half of her Masters of Library Science program.
Prichard had fallen in love with Joseph Dallett, her German teacher at Cambridge, so after graduation she applied for a job at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. She and Dallett married in 1966.
They had been living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada for 13 years when Prichard returned to the farm to care for his father after his mother died. During her six and a half years as a sitter, she had the pond built and the barn repainted, and she joined the Daughters of the American Revolution.
“My marriage to the love of my life was dissolved because he lived in Canada and I lived in Arkansas,” she says.
She then met and married Bob Prichard, who shared his interests in genealogy and history. She resigned her job at the law school library to take care of him when he fell ill. He died in 1995.
After her death, she worked at the Fayetteville public library. She retired as Supervisor of the Special Collections Room at the University of Arkansas in 2007.
Prichard’s son, Timothy Bentley Dallett, is an artistic entrepreneur in Montreal.
She lives at the Butterfield Trail Village in Fayetteville, where she has a balcony full of plants. She enjoys reading, mainly non-fiction and fiction by female authors. She particularly likes the history of Arkansas.
“It’s always fun for me to talk about this wonderful family,” she says. “I created 77 boxes [of documents and photos chronicling her family’s history] which will go to special collections. … I think this is a wonderful record of a family in Northwest Arkansas from 1908 to the present day. “
Prichard recently brought in the same painter from 30 years ago to give the barn a fresh coat of white paint.
“I told him it was my swan song and he told me it was his too,” she said.
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