The domed, blond-brick building is a Renaissance Revival style courthouse, designed by W. W. Hall, a “classic example of the Second Renaissance Revival Style” (Danny Groshong, Columbia County Courthouse, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, retrieved from encyclopediaofarkansas.net). The main entrance is
…a Roman style, three-bay arcade with a colonnaded portico above. (Groshong)
The original survey of Magnolia was one mile square and the courthouse square is a copy of the square of Oxford, Mississippi. (Magnolia History, magnolia-ar.com)
Colonel M. G. Kelso had previously surveyed Oxford, and modeled the plan for Magnolia after it (Guy Lancaster, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture). Construction was completed on the current building in 1906, and this is the third courthouse to occupy the center of the Magnolia square. Had I known at the time I was there it had been based on the Oxford design, I would have captured some additional views of the square area for comparison, but looks like I will just have to mosey across the Delta again at some point.
The courthouse rotunda was originally the courtroom, but has been divided into half to form a third story, which serves as a second courtroom (Groshong). Although the exterior of the building remains largely original, the interior has been extensively altered with such lovely details as sealing the north and south entrances and transforming the hallway to office and storage space, and paneling walls (Arkansas Historical Preservation Program). And of course, there is that whole “remodel the rotunda courtroom” thing.
Magnolia is home to the annual (number 26 coming up in May 2014) Magnolia Blossom Festival, which occurs in conjunction with the 25th annual World Championship Steak Cook-off and the 64th annual Sidewalk Art Show. And while you are in the area, go ahead and make plans to stop off at nearby Emerson’s (population 363) June Purple Hull Pea Festival and World Championship Rotary Tiller Race. You just gotta love a pea festival, and how many rotary tiller races have you seen? I thought so.