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Bank of Malvern Building

The Bank of Malvern building is a historic structure located at 212 South Main Street in Malvern (Hot Spring County). Constructed in 1889, the building was renovated in 1896 after a fire. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 13, 1987.

The Bank of Malvern was founded on June 4, 1889, and received a charter from the state on June 24. The bank prospered in the growing town and survived multiple so-called panics and economic downturns, leaving it the oldest chartered bank in the state by the mid-twentieth century. Founded by O. M. Nilsen and F. M. Smith, the bank was housed in a two-story building on the site of the present structure. The second floor of the building housed a medical practice, and the first floor served as the bank. After the fire in 1896, it was renovated to include only a single story.

The building is located in an area of commercial buildings. The façade is constructed in an asymmetrical Richardsonian Romanesque style. The main entryway of the building is located on the left side of the front. It contains an arched opening that rests on cushion capitals and pedestals. The left side of the façade projects toward the street and features a recessed double door. The archway is surrounded by rough-cut granite blocks. The bottom right side of the building includes a large single-pane window topped with two transoms. The window and transoms are set in a large marble panel.

Above the entryway and window, terra cotta was used to give the building the look of a second story. A double set of casement windows is located above the entryway while two separated square windows are located above the marble panel. Each window is topped by a granite lintel and rests on a granite sill. A cornice runs above the terra cotta and contains four extensions that appear to be part of a parapet and give the building a castle-like appearance. The left side is slightly taller than the right.

The interior of the building was renovated in 1950, but some original details remain. These include a mosaic tile floor in the entryway and a pressed-tin ceiling that was later covered with a suspended ceiling. The entry to the vault is surrounded by pilasters and an architrave, with a keystone in the shape of a lion’s head.

The Bank of Malvern operated in this location for decades until the construction of a new building two blocks to the east. As of 2018, the historic building houses an attorney’s office.

For additional information:
“Bank of Malvern.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/HS0017.nr.pdf (accessed July 3, 2018).

“New Location for Bank of Malvern.” Heritage of Hot Spring County 34 (2007): 103.

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated 7/3/2018

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