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The Monette Water Tower, located at the corner of Arkansas Highway 139 and Texie Avenue in Monette (Craighead County), was built in 1936 with the assistance of the Public Works Administration (PWA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 24, 2008.
As the United States struggled with the Great Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration enacted the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) to ease the effects of businesses closing. The act included an organization called the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (or Public Works Administration), which was created on June 16, 1933, to help finance federal construction projects and create jobs.
Monette was founded in 1898 as the Jonesboro, Lake City and Eastern Railroad was constructed through the area. The town prospered in its early years, with the timber industry providing steady work for residents and the town’s population doubling every ten years through 1920. As timber in the area was depleted, however, growth slowed, and in 1928 the Monette Chamber of Commerce called for such modernizations as construction of a modern waterworks to improve Monette’s fortunes.
It would be another seven years, however, before the Public Works Administration would provide the funds needed to make the project possible. The agency awarded a $21,917 grant and a $27,000 loan for a Monette water system on September 25, 1935, and a $44,219 contract was awarded on November 9, with the Corless Well Company installing the well and pump and the V. E. Schevenell Company of Memphis, Tennessee, building the distributing system. The centerpiece of the system was the Monette Water Tower, a conical Horton-style tank built by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company.
Construction on the project commenced on April 9, 1936, and continued through the summer, with sixty-one men earning a payroll of $4,575.45, which the Monette Weekly Sun reported “has been a large help to business houses in Monette in increasing sales.” Five and one-fourth miles of pipe were used in constructing the distribution system for the Monette waterworks, reaching 140 residential customers in addition to businesses and other facilities. The project was effectively complete on Wednesday, October 21, 1936, when Monette Chamber of Commerce president John V. Hancock pushed the button on the pump to fill the 75,000-gallon Monette Water Tower. The Sun reported that “the water has been tested by the state laboratories in Little Rock and has been approved for usage, and is judged pure in every respect. The system is said to be one of the best in the state in every detail.” The Monette Water Tower continues to service some 1,500 customers in Monette and the surrounding area in the twenty-first century.
For additional information:
Hope, Holly. “An Ambition to be Preferred: New Deal Recovery Efforts and Architecture in Arkansas, 1933–1943.” Little Rock, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 2006. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed January 16, 2019).
“Waterworks System at Monette, Built Through PWA, Is Completed.” Monette Weekly News, November 12, 1936, p. 1.
Zbinden, Van. “Monette Water Tower.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/CG0252.nr.pdf (accessed January 16, 2019).
Mark K. Christ
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Last Updated 1/16/2019
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