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The Little River County Courthouse is located on Main Street in the heart of Ashdown (Little River County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the two-story building as architecturally and historically significant as one of the most impressive county courthouses in Arkansas and as the most prominent structure in Little River County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 26, 1976.
After voters moved Little River’s county seat from Rocky Comfort (Little River County) to Ashdown in 1906, the administration of Judge J. B. Arnett oversaw the construction of a new courthouse that began the following year. The county hired architect Sidney Stewart to design the building with the mission to solidify Ashdown’s claim as county seat and convey optimism about the future. Stewart designed a Neo-Georgian structure with Classical themes evidenced in the columns, arches, and pediments. The outstanding feature is the octagonal dome.
The well-preserved colonial-style courtroom is situated under the dome, which provides natural light from rectangular windows at its base. Molding trims the opening of the dome and matches the decorative wood throughout the room. The walls consist of cream-colored plaster, which was painted in 1977 after renovations. Woodwork throughout the courtroom is painted a light mint, with the exception of the judge’s bench and bar.
The courthouse square is an elegant green space complete with multiple oak trees and white, iron benches. A wooden gazebo stands at one corner of the lot and is dedicated to County Judge Clyde B. Wright and “All Former Elected Officials.” It was dedicated on April 18, 2007. At Christmastime, lights cover the entire building, including the dome.
Two historical markers stand at opposite ends of the concrete walkway cutting through the lawn. The first details the county seat’s move to Ashdown. The other lists Little River County as the home of Governor Jeff Davis, describing him as one of Arkansas’s most colorful personalities. A war memorial is on the grounds, dedicated to veterans who served from Little River County in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
A time capsule is also on the grounds in a red brick box that matches the courthouse. Dedicated as part of the celebrations surrounding the sesquicentennial anniversary of Arkansas’s statehood, it was sealed on April 26, 1986, and is slated to be opened in another 150 years, on April 26, 2136. The courthouse’s centennial anniversary celebration on April 18, 2007, included an address by Governor Mike Beebe.
Many grants have been provided by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program to preserve the building and maintain its historical integrity. Since 1993, a total of $341,000 has been used to renovate the masonry, roof, and foundation.
For additional information:Gill, John Purifoy, and Marjem Jackson Gill. On the Courthouse Square in Arkansas. N.p.: 1980.
“Little River County Courthouse.” National Register of Historic Places nomination. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/LR0010.nr.pdf (accessed December 18, 2015).
Jared Craig Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Last Updated 9/27/2016
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