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The Perry County Courthouse was built in 1888 as a two-story brick building with very little decoration. This architectural look gives it a Plain Traditional style with extremely restrained Colonial Revival influences.
The land for the courthouse was donated by John Huston and John Greathouse in 1841, with the stipulation that Perryville must be made the permanent seat of Perry County. A log courthouse was built on the site immediately.
This first courthouse lasted approximately seven years, until 1848, when it was burned to the ground during a feud between the McCool and Lively families. (Some sources say it burned in 1850.) Another log courthouse was built on the site; it was known to be standing in 1889.
Sometime in the late 1850s, plans were made to build a more suitable courthouse. In 1860, building materials were gathered, but pre–Civil War tribulation caused the project to be put on hold, and all of the materials rotted and went to waste.
In 1872, a new, framed courthouse was built approximately a half mile from the older log courthouse on land donated by J. L. W. Matthews. This new courthouse burned in May 1874 and was rebuilt. It burned again in December 1881 and was again rebuilt. The current courthouse was built in 1888 for the community-funded cost of $4,000.
The 1888 courthouse is still in use in the twenty-first century and is located at 310 W. Main Street in Perryville. The original building was a square, two-story block with entries on the north and south sides. The entries are recessed in small, porch-like alcoves. Squared pilasters support the overhang.
In 1958, one-story wings were built on the east and west sides. These wings were built with flat roofs, while the original building has a truncated hipped roof. The south side of the building has four bays built into it. Three of the bays have single windows, and the second bay from the west has paired windows on both stories. No records exist to indicate why it was built in this fashion.
Constructed entirely of bricks hand-made from Perry County clay, the courthouse remained bright red in color until the entire exterior of the building was painted white in 1962. In 1967, the original steel shingles were covered by composition shingles. The Perry County Courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 6, 1976.
For additional information:
Living the Times, 1776–1976: A Bicentennial Tribute to Perry County. Casa, AR: Perry County Extension Homemakers Council, 1989.
“Perry 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/PE0010.nr.pdf (accessed June 6, 2015).
Perry County Historical & Genealogical Society. Perry County, Arkansas: Its Land & People. Marceline, MO: Walsworth Publishing Company, 2004.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated 6/6/2015
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