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Carroll County Courthouses in County Lines Magazine

Arkansas Historic Preservation Program - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Among the many programs and services of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is the County Courthouse Restoration Grant Program. Created in 1989, this grant program has helped to extend the lives of courthouses that hold vital links to community pride and local history. These grants are funded through the Real Estate Transfer Tax, administered by the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council. Since the beginning of the program, the AHPP has awarded more than $21.25 million to 73 historic courthouses and courthouse annexes around the state for use in rehabilitating, preserving and protecting these important historic resources. Since 1997, Carroll County has received 11 grants totaling $392,377 for the Carroll County Courthouses.

 

(The featured article below ran in the Winter 2017 issue of the quarterly publication of the Association of Arkansas Counties –County Lines. Companion articles about historic courthouses will be a regular feature in future issues. Read more about the history of Carroll County and these remarkable buildings.)

 

With seats of justice in both Berryville and Eureka Springs, Carroll County is one of ten Arkansas counties with two courthouses. Not many however, can boast of two such beautiful structures, and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program has worked with the county since 1997 to preserve and keep them in service.

Arkansas’s Territorial Legislature carved Carroll County from part of Izard County on November 1, 1833, naming it in honor of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The new town of Carrollton was selected as county seat, and a courthouse was in place by 1837. However, like many buildings in Carroll County, the courthouse did not survive the Civil War, with a Union soldier noting in March 1863 that “this town has been quite a prosperous place but is now nearly deserted. The brick court-house is burned down and the walls are not more than 3 to 5 ft. high, rubbish and broken bricks lying all around.”

As Carroll County was reduced by having parts carved from it for the creation of Madison, Searcy, Newtown and Boone counties between 1836 and 1868, contentious elections were held that resulted in the county seat being moved to the more centrally located Berryville in 1875. That town had been established in the early 1850s by co-founders Blackburn Henderson Berry and Arthur A. Baker, its name decided by a coin toss – it could have been Bakerville. Berryville, too, had suffered in the Civil War, with only three buildings remaining when peace returned, so a new courthouse was necessary.

County Judge A. Fanning appointed a commission on May 10, 1875, to select a town site for the new building. Blackburn Berry sold a lot for the building, while donating land east of the building for a town square. R.H. Jones designed the building and J.P. Fancher built it for $8,997.50. The result was a simple two-story building with little ornamentation and a flat roof, and county government moved in in 1881. With the establishment of a second judicial district at Eureka Springs in 1883, Green Forest challenged Berryville to serve as the eastern district’s county seat. Berryville survived the acrimonious debate, and in 1905 the victorious Berryvillians celebrated by adding a third story to their 1880 courthouse, flanked by twin fourth-story towers. The $7,000 remodeling added limestone lintels and sills to the windows, resulting in the handsome building that survives today, proudly exhibiting elements of the Second Empire style of architecture.

As mentioned above, the Arkansas General Assembly established a western judicial district at the growing resort town of Eureka Springs in 1883, responding in part to seasonal flooding of Kings River that made access to Berryville difficult. Court was initially held in a rented room, but by 1906 the people of Eureka Springs were ready for a more stately structure. The night before the Carroll County Quorum Court was to vote on an appropriation for the new building, Eureka Springs Mayor Claude A. Fuller learned that two western district justices of the peace would be absent from the meeting. He dispatched the chief of police, with two extra horses, to track down the errant justices and to bring them to Berryville the next morning. Arriving at 5 a.m., their two votes resulted in a tie vote, which County Judge Tom Fancher broke by voting in favor of funding the new structure. Eureka Springs provided $2,500 toward the courthouse, which would allow the city to occupy the building’s bottom floor while county offices were located in the upper stories – a cozy arrangement that survives today.

William Octavos Perkins and Sons designed the building, and the 1908 result was a striking example of the Italianate style of architecture, with tall windows soaring toward the heavens while the heavy stone courses around the openings are reminiscent of the Richardsonian Romanesque style. The Carroll County Courthouse – Western District is part of the Eureka Springs Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 18, 1970.

County Courthouse Restoration Grants in Carroll County

 

Among the many programs and services of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is the County Courthouse Restoration Grant Program. Created in 1989, this grant program has helped to extend the lives of courthouses that hold vital links to community pride and local history. These grants are funded through the Real Estate Transfer Tax, administered by the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council. Since the beginning of the program, the AHPP has awarded more than $21.25 million to 73 historic courthouses and courthouse annexes around the state for use in rehabilitating, preserving and protecting these important historic resources. Since 1997, Carroll County has received 11 grants totaling $392,377 for the Carroll County Courthouses.

Carroll County Courthouse – Eastern District, Berryville

FY1997 Roof restoration $1,600

FY1998 Roof Restoration $36,700

FY2000 Restore Soffit/Fascia, Rewire $47,000

FY2010 Roof Restoration $63,384

FY2017 Tower/Masonry Restoration $19,000

 

Carroll County Courthouse – Western District, Eureka Springs

FY2000 Restore Cupola $12,000

FY2001 Restore Cupola, Rewire $37,760

FY2005 Restore Downspouts, Soffit/Fascia $66,000

FY2007 Stone Entrance Restoration $54,933

FT2009 Complete Entrance Restoration $35,000

FY2010 Complete Front Restoration $19,000

 

GRAND TOTAL: $392,377

 



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