Arkansas County Courthouse, DeWitt, Arkansas

Arkansas County Courthouse…best known example of the Art Deco style in both DeWitt and all of Arkansas County, but also as one of the best extant Art Deco Courthouses in the entire state. (Arkansas County Courthouse, Southern District, Dewitt, Arkansas County, retrieved from Arkansas Historic Preservation Program)

Arkansas County is the oldest county in Arkansas, and has two county seats–one in Stuttgart and one in DeWitt (local.arkansas.gov).  The building is described as

…prime example of the Art Deco style used in many Arkansas buildings constructed during this time period. (Groshong, D., 2013. Arkansas County Courthouse Southern District. Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture)

ACC front and sideThe front doors are aluminum replacements and two rear additions were added in 1971.  The building still retains the original ceramic tile floor, judges benches and witness stands, and most of the original light fixtures remain (Groshong).  Unfortunately, at some point “wood paneling” was added over the original wall surfaces. (Did you see me shudder?  My guess is in 1971, when they added the additions to the rear.  I seem to recall a lot of “wood” paneling going on during the 70s and 80s.)

The current Art Deco courthouse, started in 1931 and completed in 1932, was the fourth courthouse in DeWitt.  It was designed by architect H. Ray Burks, and built by E. V. Bird Construction Company.  Burks, from Little Rock, also designed the medical building at Little Rock for the University of Arkansas (Hope Star, 24 March 1931, p. 1) and was one of three architects selected for the new administration building at Arkansas State College in Jonesboro (Hope Star, 13 April 1931, p. 2).

Photographs of the earlier courthouses can be seen at the link, and it is interesting to note that the 1891 courthouse depicted “was disliked by the officials and citizens of the area” (Groshong, 2013).  One reason was very soon after completion, it developed cracks in the foundation.  It appeared to be a striking building however.  It was red brick, the second red brick courthouse for DeWitt.  Apparently since it has been there since 1932, the more restrained Art Deco and pale brick suits the officials and citizens.

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5 Responses to Arkansas County Courthouse, DeWitt, Arkansas

  1. Interesting cornerstone. It looks to have been edited. Judge Trice started the project but Judge Burnett wanted to get his credit for completing the project. If this is the case the odd fact would be that the stone originally had no date of construction.

  2. Suzassippi says:

    Interesting thought. I have looked in the Arkansas archived newspapers, and cannot turn up anything about the courthouse, which I thought was somewhat odd. Those dates appear in all the sources, including the original nomination form for the NRHP, so I do assume it is correct. I have run across cornerstones in various locations without dates of construction, but it is a rarity I guess. Thanks for the additional information. I guess every judge wants his day.

  3. socialbridge says:

    What a lovely building. It’s great to be brought to these places that look so different to what we normally see here in Ireland.

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