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The Clark County Library is a purpose-built red brick building located in Arkadelphia (Clark County) at 609 Caddo Street. Constructed in 1903, it serves as the main branch of the Clark County Library System and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 5, 1974.
The Women’s Library Association was formed in Arkadelphia on November 11, 1897, with the goal of establishing a public library. The group collected a number of books that were stored in a succession of locations in the town, but in 1899 the group was unable to find a rent-free location. At this time, the association began working to build a permanent facility to house the library.
A number of fundraising events were held, and the group had collected $1,000 by 1903. The Women’s Library Association borrowed an additional $3,000 so construction could begin on the building. After the library opened, the group continued to raise funds to retire the debt, meeting this goal in 1913. The building was designed by Little Rock (Pulaski County) architect Charles Thompson and constructed by James Pullen.
The building faces north and is fronted by an Ionic portico. The portico is supported by four columns topped with an entablature, with two columns on each side. The portico is reached by climbing three concrete steps, and a set of double wood-and-glass doors is centered on the porch. The doors are flanked by sidelights and are topped with an arched transom. Two windows are located on the front of the building, one on either side of the doors. The windows and doors are all topped with red brick arches and white stone keystones with matching windowsills. The east and west sides of the building are identical, with each including three arched windows. Two smaller windows are located on either side of a large, central window. Each side also includes a chimney, and both are flanked by pedimented dormers.
The interior of the original building includes fifteen-foot ceilings and heavy molded trim throughout. The original building was square and a single story. Over the years, wings were added to both the east and west ends of the building, and a second story was added at the rear. The building received some updates over the decades, including a new floor in the 1960s and an asphalt roof.
The Women’s Library Association operated the library from its opening in 1903 until 1939, when the structure and contents were donated to the City of Arkadelphia. In recognition of the library’s importance across the entire county, Clark County took control of the facility in 1974. The county operates the facility, and the Women’s Library Association continues to regularly meet in the building. While the structural integrity of the building remains strong, it is in need of some major restoration work.
For additional information:
“Clark County Library.” National Register for Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/CL0119.nr.pdf (accessed June 1, 2018).
Richter, Wendy, et al. Clark County Arkansas: Past and Present. Arkadelphia, AR: Clark County Historical Association, 1992.
Sesser, David. “Library Profile: Clark County Library System.” Arkansas Libraries 68 (Summer 2012): 10–11.
Henderson State University
Last Updated 6/1/2018
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