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The Lafayette County Courthouse is an early 1940s-era Art Deco building built with funds from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). It is known as the first Art Deco building in Lafayette County, though its style also heavily incorporates WPA Moderne. The Lafayette County Courthouse is located at 1 Courthouse Square in Lewisville (Lafayette County).
The current Lafayette County Courthouse is the fourth courthouse to be built in Lewisville. Several years after the first courthouse was constructed, the railroad was built south of the town. The city of Lewisville began to build southward toward the railroad, and a second courthouse was constructed in the newer part of town in 1890. Fourteen years later, another courthouse was built to replace it. Finally, from 1940 through 1942, the current courthouse was constructed.
The site of the courthouse was sold to the Southwestern Improvement Company—the St. Louis, Missouri, organization that developed much of the community—by Lewis and Eugenia Steel. The WPA funded forty percent of the costs of the new courthouse in an effort to replace the older courthouse building that was badly in need of repairs.
The Steel family cemetery, dating back to 1860, is still located on the land, making it the only courthouse in Arkansas to share a public square with a cemetery. Also located on the square is a single pen log structure from about 1830, which was moved there in 1968.
The building was designed by architectural firm Clippard and Vaught and strongly incorporates the Art Deco style and Moderne governmental-style architectures. Chevrons, lozenges, and sunbursts show the Art Deco style, while the Moderne style, according to art professor and preservationist Franklin Allen Latimer, “almost assumes the appearance of a cellblock. The walls are massive and sturdy, with few windows interrupting the solidity of the walls giving the structure a very ‘heavy’ and stable look. Gone are any reminders of the classical inspirations found on the earlier structures.”
The courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 25, 1993.
For additional information:
Gill, John Purifoy, and Marjem Jackson Gill. On the Courthouse Square in Arkansas. N.p.: 1980.
“Lafayette County Courthouse.” 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/LA0020.nr.pdf (accessed June 2, 2015).
Latimer, Franklin Allen. “Arkansas Listings in the National Register of Historical Places: The Influence of the New Deal on Arkansas Courthouse Design.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 60 (Winter 2001): 420–442.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated 12/12/2016
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