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The Gravette Historical Museum is housed in the historic two-story Kindley House located at 503 Charlotte Street in Gravette (Benton County). Founded in 1995, the museum houses a collection of artifacts documenting the history of the area, as well as detailing the life of one-time town resident and World War I air ace Field Kindley.
The Kindley House—L-shaped and of Italianate design—was constructed sometime in the 1870s of brick manufactured on site. After having several occupants, it was purchased by Amos Eraster Kindley, who moved to the town in 1898 and assisted in establishing the Bank of Gravette. In about 1908, he and his wife, Mary, obtained custody of their nephew Field Eugene Kindley, whose mother had recently died. The building is most notably associated with this nephew, who would go on to become one of the United States’ ranking World War I air aces. After his death in a 1920 plane crash, his body was returned to Gravette for burial.
The idea for a historical museum surfaced in 1993 during Gravette’s centennial celebration. A group of history-conscious citizens stimulated interest by constructing exhibits and dioramas of the town. The city chartered the museum in June 1995. A small room was provided in a downtown building for the display of artifacts. As the collection grew, an additional room was obtained, and the city hired a part-time employee in 1999 to oversee the museum. Later that year, the City of Gravette purchased the Kindley House, which had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 28, 1988.
The City of Gravette and the Gravette Historical Museum Commission provided one half of the funding for the purchase of the home, with the remainder provided by private loans by interested citizens. Those private donors were repaid within the year. Overall, the city financed approximately sixty-one percent of the cost. The house was in poor condition and in need of many repairs. In 2003, major restoration work was financed by a grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.
The museum is open to the public on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday afternoons and by appointment.
For additional information:“Kindley House.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/BE0691.nr.pdf (accessed May 21, 2015).
Von Ree, Mike. “Kindley House History.” City of Gravette. http://www.cityofgravette-ar.gov/Kindley%20House%20History.pdf (accessed October 14, 2014).
Mike Polston Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Last Updated 12/12/2016
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