Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Peoples Bank and Loan Company

The Peoples Bank and Loan Company was designed by Texarkana architects Witt, Seibert and Company.  Built in 1915, it--like the majority of the other buildings in this town, opened during the heyday of the lumber boom.  It is the "best surviving example of a Classical Revival commercial building" (Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.
 The building was sold in 2001 according to the Lafayette County tax records and is under private ownership.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996, it is significant for both its architectural style, and its contribution to the community development during the early years of Lewisville.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

First National Bank of Lewsiville

Lewisville, Arkansas became significant during the timber boom at the start of the 20th century.  As you know from an earlier post, the King-Whatley building was built in 1902 to house the Merchants and Farmers Bank.  When Merchants folded in 1908, it became the home to First National Bank, who occupied the building in 1909.
First National built a new building in 1915, on the corner of Spruce and "A" Street.  You can see that building here.  I love a good mystery, but I was standing next to the answer and couldn't see the forest for the trees.  Apparently, I was so distracted by the People's Bank and Trust Building, that I failed to notice the 1909 First National Bank building next door--but of course, at that moment, I did not know that there was a First National Bank building.

Looking at the photos later while editing, I noted this building on the corner of Spruce, and compared it with the 1909 photo seen in the link above.  Matches.
Then, I looked at the upper floor of this building, also the building above, and compared with the upper floor of the 1909 photo in the link.  Another match.

Finally, I compared the street view for Google Earth and can conclude with a fair amount of certainty that this was the First National Bank Building constructed in 1909.  The Google earth view shows the front facade in a lighter colored brick, and the columns are just visible here, and below the canopy in the 1909 photo.

You might wonder why I don't have complete shots of the buildings, but it was very hot, and me and my walking stick were tiring out, so I had pretty much limited myself to walking down one block and just going with what I got.  I was also still halfway from my destination, meaning yet another 7 hours on the road.  Of course, if I had known what was right in front of my face, I would have sacrificed the few more minutes.  What I do know is that I am headed back to Lewisville again, and with plenty of time to capture all the gems in this little town.  I think I might even need to have a cup of coffee in the cafe and see if I can find anyone who wants to talk about their town.

 The whole thing that started me on this search was spying this midcentury modern in the midst of all the early buildings.  I have only recently developed an appreciation for midcentury modernism.  I cannot find when this building was built, but based on the design and looking at hundreds of midcentury bank buildings in the past few days, it can range between late 1950s-1970s.  I like the vertical columns and the way the screen and panels replicate the blocks in the building.
Updated information: According to the Lafayette County tax records, the building was constructed in 1951.

Monday, June 25, 2012

King-Whatley Building

Yes, we're still in Lewisville, and going to be here for a while--lots of history here in this little town!
 The King-Whatley Building, circa 1902, was built to serve as the Merchants and Farmers Bank.  Arkansas Historic Preservation Program identified its significance:
...style and size reflect the optimism and prosperity (short-lived) that cotton-growing and the railroad brought to this Southwest Arkansas region.
The architect was not known, but due to the similarity with the old courthouse (long since demolished) there was speculation that it was built by the same person.  This building was a block from the old courthouse, and a block from the railroad.  The proximity to those two locations was intended to maximize business.

It was also significant in that in 50 years, it housed 2 banks, law offices, a land abstract company.  The building is unaltered.  The Merchants and Farmers was short-lived, dissolving in 1908, and the First National Bank of Lewisville moved into the building the following year.  It has housed a shoe repair shop, a rental library, and a beauty shop in rear offices.  The land abstract office closed in the 1950s and the building has been vacant since that time.  It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.  Whatley's daughter, Snow, died in 2011 at the age of 96.  The King heirs intend to keep the building intact and reactivate it as a community-use facility.  In 2001, it was listed as one of Arkansas' most endangered buildings.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lewisville Masonic Lodge Building

 With the similarity in style and design to the Tripplett Building across the street, in the absence of any definitive information, I am going to call the Masonic Lodge building circa 1915 as well.
 The building is strikingly similar in style, only somewhat larger.  Often, the lower floor was used for some type of business and the upper floor was the lodge.  The World's Masonic Register, 1960 lists the Lewsisville lodge as subordinate lodge no. 14, and J. M. Montgomery as master.  There were no noted meeting dates or times.
 The sign has done double-duty advertising Coke as well as the Lodge.  During the early years, there were a number of businesses, including grocery stores and drug stores, so this building may have seen other activity prior to being used for the lodge.
 I liked the wooden detail on the exterior, and the latch handle.

This light fixture most likely had some type of glass panels in them originally, and may or may not have had a painted design.  Some fraternal lodge buildings had lights with symbols or the letters of the organization, and others did not.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Triplett Company Building

As I continued west on highway 82 toward Texarkana, I passed through yet another small town.  I glanced to the right--toward "downtown" and saw a row of old buildings and I knew I had to make another stop.  Taking the first right turn off the highway and going around the block, I pulled over to park.  Lewisville, in Lafayette County, Arkansas was the subject of an earlier post on the courthouse.

The Triplett Company Building, c. 1915, was built as the office for a lumber company.  The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program identified the significance of the building:
...one of few surviving commercial buildings in Lafayette County constructed during boom of the timber industry brought on by the arrival of the railroad earlier...
...best surviving example of a panel-brick commercial building in Lewisville...
It required some extensive commitment to locate information on panel brick style.  The High Street Hill Association, Boston, has this to say about panel brick:
...brick masonry was used to create a decorative pattern of projecting or receding panels.
Trademarks of the style are stepped corbel tables, string courses with geometric indentations, and various cross-shaped panels which animate the facade with their crisp patterns. The Panel Brick ornamentation is often centered at points of architectural interest such as cornices, pilasters, windows, and doors. The wall surface itself is also divided into panels of ornamental detail which vie for the eye's attention. Historically, the Panel Brick style holds a critical position in architectural development. First, it indicated a decided break from the restraining canons of classical architecture prevalent through the Civil War. Second, the experimental way in which brick designs were substituted for classical details was a prelude to the individualistic forms and varied materials of the Queen Anne style. Third, the Panel Brick style may be viewed as an early attempt to design a building which reflects the nature of the building materials, an attitude which looked forward to the work of H.H. Richardson in the 1880s.
The building is on the National Register of Historic Places due to the association with the railroad and timber industry in Arkansas during the early 1900s.

Friday, June 22, 2012

El Dorado is not all one would think it might be, but Ozmer House makes up for it

I pulled into a gas station/convenience store in El Dorado, needing a convenience stop and something to drink.  No rest rooms.  Okey doke, and back to the car and on down the street.  I passed the Pine Tree Inn, and was reminded of a time many years ago in my former lifetime when I got stranded in a small Arkansas town due to fog.  I spent the night in the Pine Tree Motel--the only place in town.  I am pretty sure it was no way related to the Pine Tree Inn in El Dorado, other than this place appeared to be old enough to have been in existence in 1971, and might not have been painted or repaired since 1971.

I stopped at the next gas station/convenience store.  The woman sweeping the floor informed me rather testily that "no ma'am" they do not have a rest room.  What is the deal in El Dorado, folks?  While I am in no way comparing my situation with black people's experience under Jim Crow, the phrase "Don't buy gas where you can't use the rest room" popped into my head.  (I had just read an article about Dr. T. R. M. Howard of Mound Bayou and his bumper stickers that said that--sparking a boycott of service stations that refused service to blacks, but would certainly take their money.)  I had been drinking that huge iced tea picked up in Hamburg, so I really needed a pit stop.  I spied a McDonald's and pulled in, since it was getting time to eat anyway.  The order counter was about the smallest Mickey D's I have ever seen, and there was literally no place to stand and there were only 3 of us in there.  I finally gave up ordering and just found my way back to the highway and out of the less than hospitable El Dorado, Arkansas.
 Just out of Magnolia, I saw this little dogtrot standing in a field.  For the second time that day, I turned around and went back to take a photo.  Unfortunately, it was fenced off and there was no way to get closer, but even before I saw the historic marker, I recognized this was probably a significant building.  It is the Ozmer House, built in 1883.  Arkansas Historic Preservation Program identified its importance:
...architecturally significant for its excellent craftsmanship...box-construction with board-and-batten exterior and interior...gambrel ceiling and handmade pine mantels...
The dog trot house has a kitchen ell on the rear, and was representative of the farm homes built during that time period.  This area of Arkansas was developing into an agricultural and economic boom area, and the railroad further increased that prosperity.
The Ozmers were a family of yeoman farmers, originally from Georgia.  The house was located in an area with other family farms, and the Ozmers helped to establish a Presbyterian Church and the Greers Chapel Church.  Mr. Ozmer lived in this house until he died in 1941.

The house was donated to the Southern Arkansas University on the condition of relocation.  The area where the house originally stood (one-half mile from here) was experiencing increased commercial and residential encroachment, and there were concerns the house would be demolished, or fall into disrepair.  It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.  Sunflowers and zinnias were planted next to the house several years ago in an effort to increase its visibility from the highway, but nothing was blooming on this summer day.  I'm not sure why they want it to be more visible, since there is no place to park on the highway, nor be able to see closer to the building due to the fence.  However, it is at least safe and sound for now, and I love a preservation story with a happy ending.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Square at Hamburg

Hamburg, Arkansas was created in 1849, and the original plat of the business district around the square is still in tact.  The four-sided clock was donated by local jeweler W. C. McDermott, and placed in front of the courthouse completed in 1905 (Arkansas Historic Preservation Program).  The Town Square remains, although the last courthouse was demolished in the late 1960s.

Harrod Law Office occupies the former Farmers Bank & Trust building, completed in 1919.  It is in the Hamburg Commercial Historic District, where 75% of the buildings span 1908-1920 construction.
I thought this might be the old Hamburg Opera House, but it is on the wrong side of the square.  It looks like the kind of building that might have been an opera house, doesn't it?  Nonetheless, I cannot locate any specific information about it.  The Arkansas Department of Archives and History does not have that great new online historic database like Mississippi Department of Archives and History.  

This building is the old Palace Hotel, built by R. J. McBride, who also built the Methodist Church.  The front part of the building has been considerably altered.  For now, time to get back on the road to Texas!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hamburg Arkansas United Methodist Church

 Last Thursday as I left for Texas, I decided at Grenada to veer off the Interstate and go through the Delta.  I decided the couple of extra hours of driving time would be worth it to see a part of the country new to me, and that stopping for a rest break in a picturesque little town was far more appealing than stopping at some McDonald's or Shell service station on the Interstate.  Besides, it is looking like that trip to Texas might be the closest thing I get to a vacation this summer, and I thought I might as well pretend I was on vacation.  I was right.  Crossing the bridge in Greenville, I moved into the Arkansas Delta.

The Hamburg United Methodist Church, constructed 1910, occupies the same spot as the original church, a wooden Gothic Revival building, constructed sometime between 1850 and 1865.  The present Gothic Revival, with Moorish variant, is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Moorish variant was unusual at the early date of this church's construction, not becoming popular until after the 1920s in the nation, and was quite uncommon in Arkansas (Arkansas Historic Preservation Program).
 The bell was struck in England and shipped to New Orleans, and from there, up to Marie Saline Landing--which would have taken it on quite a circuitous route through various rivers, lakes and bayous, from looking at the map.  The bell arrived on the date of Lincoln's assassination (1865) according to the United Methodist Church Southeast District Office history.  There is no identified date of the first church building, but the church was organized between 1848 and 1850 and they received their first pastor in 1850.  After that, they built the first wooden church building, no specified date.
 The building was designed by J. A. and Sebe Nolley, local brick makers.  The Nolley brothers were asked to design a Gothic Revival church due to their known craftsmanship and skill.  One of the brothers (the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program does not distinguish which one) traveled to the St. Louis World's Fair to view examples of Gothic Revival architecture, stating he was not familiar enough with the style to design it.
 Jacoby Art Glass Company of St. Louis, Missouri, designed and built the stained glass windows.
 There is a shorter tower at the rear of the building, not as ornate as the one at the front.

The building was added to (the sanctuary is on the NRHP list, added in 1992) several times during the mid-century.  In the 1990s, the church undertook extensive remodeling and renovation.  The original wood trim was restained to match the new wood additions to the altar and other parts of the sanctuary, but the original tin ceiling was repaired and repainted.  The fellowship hall to the left in this photograph, was designed to complement the original building, and did not appear to unduly detract from the historic structure.

All in all, it was a pleasant first stop on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River.  I will add to the Hamburg visit later this week.  A quick stop at the Sonic for an iced tea (and a hit-up to donate to send the seniors to somewhere--Washington, D C?), and then I was back on the tiny little two-lane and driving west.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Woodson Suspension Bridge

Last year while researching another bridge over the Clear Fork of the Brazos River, I read about a suspension bridge near Woodson.  I spent a lot of time in Woodson, as my grandmother and other family lived near or in Woodson.  I was successful on my efforts to find it this trip.  The Woodson bridge is one of 7 remaining suspension bridges in Texas, and was built in 1896 by the Flinn Moyer Company of Weatherford, Texas.
The towers rest on stone piers and the cables are made of galvanized steel wire strands wrapped in strands.
I have details (and detail pictures) of the bridge from historican Dr. Mark M. Brown, and will post the rest of the story later this week.  In 1995, the Texas Senate passed a resolution directed to the TX Department of Transportation to restore and maintain the bridge; the 1996 study was apparently the end of the effort to preserve the bridge and it now sits deteriorating.

Dad told me a story about the building of the suspension bridge over the Brazos at Newcastle when he was a boy.  They held a "bridge dance" to celebrate the opening of the bridge and the bridge began swaying due to the movement of all the people on the bridge.  He said he was not on the bridge, just a young boy watching as they lived near the river.  Everyone was ordered off the bridge, and that was the end of the bridge dance.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lafayette County Courthouse, Lewisville, Arkansas

Lafayette County courthouse in Lewisville, Arkansas was built 1940-1942 as part of the Works Progress Administration.  WPA funded 40% of the $100,000 project (Arkansas Historic Preservation Program).  Architects Clippard and Vaught's design
...reflected a restrained reinterpretation of Art Deco style typical of WPA courthouses.  

Lafayette County was named in honor of French Marquis de Lafayette.  In 1905, the state legislature altered the pronunciation to "luh-fay-ut" to be "less French-sounding."  Oxford, Mississippians can probably feel right at home here.  While driving through, I found myself wondering how Arkansas residents pronounced it...and now I know.
The main street through downtown Lewisville was also paved as a WPA project.

Friday, June 15, 2012

On vacation this week

I'm on vacation in West Texas this week, where broad band high speed is more than likely the stripe painted down your pick up truck and the way you drive.

I had the greatest trip down, cutting across the Mississippi and Arkansas Deltas.  Total freedom, and great little towns in which to take photographs!

I'll see you soon!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Youth Day in Mound Bayou

 Yesterday was our monthly youth day in Mound Bayou.  During the summer, our graduate class will be working with us several times each month, and 23 students joined us for the day.  We had three options yesterday: art, dance, and adventure.  One group opted to lead the adventure activities, and began the day with a Web of Life exercise.  It's about the connection and relationship, and what each of us brings to a community to make it stronger...and what happens when we lose those connections in the web of life.
 Art has been one of their favorite activities.  Creative work is powerful--not just for the one doing the creating, but those who view the work of art, and take some meaning from it for themselves.  Since our first youth day in the community, back in October, it has been fun seeing the things that these young people value, as demonstrated in their art.  Regular readers may recall the walking tour we did through the community, and photographing it through the eyes of these young people as they shared what was important to them.  Not surprising, and a validation of who I have come to see these young people are, it was about relationship--with each other, and with the community itself.
 In addition to art classes, dance work was one of the activities on the list for what they wanted to do this summer.  One of the graduate students is a Zumba instructor, and she had quite a group going with a variety of dances.

We will be setting up an Art Gallery in order to display the photography and painting that the students produce over the summer.  We'd like to share some of their vision with the community members as well.  I'll take you on a tour of the gallery once it's ready for the public, and you can see the finished products!

We had another first yesterday, when we had five young children join us.  One of the teenagers had called to ask if she could bring her younger siblings, and of course, this being all about inclusion, Mrs. J told them yes.  When they walked in, without my saying a word, three of the students invited them to join in the art work, and there they sat working on their own drawings...which they wanted to take home to show their family.  We had not expected younger kids, so our door prizes were not appropriate for their age.  Undaunted, my friend whipped out her stash of dollar bills and we held a separate drawing for door prizes for the younger table.

Some of the graduate students had been with us before, on prior youth days, and in the two classes I have taught there when we stay in the community for a week.  Some were not concerned about what the day would bring because that is just the nature of who they are.  A few were a little anxious about how they would be received by the youth and the community, and not sure what I expected of them.  What I always hope it offers is the opportunity to see that even when you plan, things happen and you have to adjust.  You have to be willing to make mistakes and for something to fail, but just as important, you have to be willing to succeed.  I tend to believe that it always turns out.  When we are in it with heart, for the relationship, not in it for the technique and the daily headline, it does always turn out.  Kind of like our work for 6 years in Riverside.  We may not always see the end results, but one thing we do know is that sowing the seeds is the beginning step...nurturing the growth all along the way is a process.  Working in communities is not about a photo op and saying "Look what we did."  If it matters at all, it's about saying "Look what you did."  As Si Kahn used to say, "What about the potlucks?  What about the music?  What about the photo albums?"  Keeping a record of what we do is part of the process: it is about documenting the history of our work together and our relationships.  We are blessed to be able to work in this community, and it never fails that on our trips back home, Debra and I are talking about that blessing, and what it means to us.  There is something about sitting down with one another that strengthens us as we walk this road in our lives, and sustains us as we continue walking down the road.

Remember the 125th Anniversary Celebration during the week of July 8-14!  We hope to see you there.  The brochure with the list of events is posted below.

For more information, check the Official City of Mound Bayou Facebook page, or City of Mound Bayou website.

Friday, June 8, 2012

125th Celebration of the Founding of Mound Bayou

Founded by former slaves I. T. Montgomery, Benjamin Green, and other progressive pioneers on July 12, 1887, Mound Bayou will celebrate its 125th birthday July 8-14, 2012.  We invite you, your family, former Mound Bayouians--and the entire state of Mississippi--to join in the celebration!

July 12, 1887, the town of Mound Bayou was founded.  125 years later, Mound Bayou celebrates its rich heritage and the legacy of its founders, while looking forward to the promise of an even brighter future.
There are many ways for you or your company to contribute to Mound Bayou's monumental historic occasion.  Join us, by becoming a sponsor, through a financial contribution, or placing ads in our souvenir book. 

The Special Events Committee continues to work toward making the 125th Anniversary Celebration memorable.  Please take a few minutes to look at the brochure, consider the level of support you can provide, and join the community for all or part of the week.

You can see updates on the 125th Celebration and progress on the Taborian Urgent Care Center at the following links:

City of Mound Bayou website

City of Mound Bayou Facebook

Taborian Urgent Care Center website (Note: the Taborian website is still under construction and is a work in progress right now)

Taborian Urgent Care Center Facebook

Mound Bayou "The Jewel of the Delta" Believing in Our Past to Motivate the Future.