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Shiloh Historic District

The Shiloh Historic District near downtown Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) comprises thirty-two acres of structures, trails, and sites reflecting Springdale’s early history—from about 1830 (when the community was called Shiloh) through the early twentieth century. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 31, 1978, for its significance in early settlement, architecture, and industry. The district is roughly bounded by Spring Creek; Johnson Avenue; and Shiloh, Mill, and Spring Streets.

By city ordinances, Springdale formally established the Shiloh Historic District in 1978, created an appeals procedure in 1978, and removed from the district 10.38 acres along Main Street in 1991. The original district included eighteen structures, a number of which have historic/architectural significance; twelve sites considered important in Springdale’s commercial/industrial development; and traces of several historic roads. The most significant buildings are the Shiloh Meeting Hall, the Berry-Braun House, the Searcy House, and the Steele General Store.

The Shiloh Meeting Hall (a.k.a. Shiloh Church, Odd Fellows Lodge) is located at 121 W. Huntsville Avenue. One of the earliest extant structures in northwestern Arkansas, this two-story frame building was constructed in 1871 as a church and Masonic lodge. It was placed on the National Register on June 5, 1975. The clapboard structure features a gable roof and belfry, pilastered corners, and transom windows. Its occupants included three churches, the local Masonic lodge, the Women’s Civic Club, and the New Era Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, whose seventy-year tenure ended in 2005. At that time, the land, building, and contents were donated to the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. The building then began renovations to become a meeting place and exhibit hall.

The Berry-Braun House (500 N. Main Street) is a two-story, Queen Anne–style home built in 1885 by Millard Berry, who was a newspaper editor, a telephone company founder, Springdale’s mayor, and Washington County judge. After his daughter Josephine Berry married Percy Braun, the house became known as the Berry-Braun Home. Sold in the early 1990s, the house and gardens became Magnolia Gardens Bed and Breakfast, then Magnolia Gardens Event Venue. The frame structure, with a partial brick façade that was added in 1967, includes a two-story, pyramid-roofed tower.

The Searcy House (a.k.a. Smith-Searcy House) is located at 110 W. Johnson Avenue. The original three-room home was built in 1871 for the Reverend Archibald Smith, minister of Shiloh Church. The house belonged to the Searcy family starting in 1884, and Lockwood Searcy and his wife, Annabel Searcy, lived in the home until it was bequeathed to the Shiloh Museum in 1981. The home retains many of its original features, although it was added to and remodeled in the early 1930s, the late 1940s, and the mid-1970s; today, it is furnished to reflect the late 1940s.

The Steele General Store (118 W. Johnson) moved across the street from its original site (south of the Johnson Avenue–Main Street intersection) to the Shiloh Museum in 1978. The 1870s building is the oldest extant commercial structure in Springdale. John B. Steele, a Confederate Civil War captain who became a prominent businessman and civic leader in Rogers (Benton County), built it to operate as a grocery and dry goods store. The one-story, board-and-batten structure served as a post office, church, and residence before beginning its role as interpreter of local history and site for meetings and museum classes.

Among the other historic structures in the district are the Bookout House (518 N. Mill Street), a circa 1870, two-story frame house with a steep, cross-gable roof; the Berry-Braun Cottage (just east of the Bookout House), a circa 1920, one-story frame house featuring a gable roof with exposed rafters; and the American Legion Hut (200 Spring Street), a 1934 native-stone building constructed for Beely-Johnson American Legion Post 139 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 30, 2007.

The last of the significant structures in the district, the former Springdale Library (118 W. Johnson Avenue), was built in 1927 on the former town-square blacksmith shop site but was demolished in 1990 to make way for the 1991 Shiloh Museum building.  

The Shiloh Historic District also encompasses parts of a number of historic trails: Old Missouri Road (circa 1830); Government Post Road (1836); Northern Route of the Trail of Tears, Cannon and Taylor Detachments (1839); Wire (Telegraph) Road (1860); and Military Road (1861–64). The Razorback Greenway (2015) also runs through the district.

Sites within the district include the gardens and wooded space once a part of the Berry-Braun property, now part of Magnolia Gardens Event Venue; Shiloh Memorial Park, a bicentennial-project city park with historical markers; the original “town square” of the nineteenth-century Shiloh community, now part of the Shiloh Museum campus; and historic sites along the banks of Spring Creek, such as Haxton Woolen Mill (1878); Chautauqua Auditorium (1898); and the city’s first waterworks (1904), cooperage (1908), and light company (1908).

For additional information:
Lemke, W. J. “Historical Pilgrimage to Springdale.” Flashback 1 (November 1951): 3–4.

Ordinance #1188 of the City of Springdale, Arkansas, as Recorded in Washington County, Arkansas, Land Record 973, pages 558–563. https://www.co.washington.ar.us/Information/Chronicle/ChronicleScannedImage.asp?IN=Land-1431-58 (accessed November 4, 2015)

“Shiloh Church.” National Register of Historic Properties nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/WA0439.nr.pdf (accessed November 4, 2015).

“Shiloh Historic District.” National Register of Historic Properties nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/WA0432.nr.pdf (accessed November 4, 2015).

Young, Susan. “What a Family Held Dear.” Shiloh Scrapbook 28 (August 2009): 1, 9. http://www.shilohmuseum.org/pdfs/scrapbook/august_09.pdf (accessed November 4, 2015)

Allyn Lord
Shiloh Museum of Ozark History

Last Updated 3/17/2017

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