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Photos by Holly Hope/Arkansas Historic Preservation Program


Grant program has preserved historic features of White County Courthouse ByMark Christ


A Stately Lady Arkansas Historic Preservation Program


County have worked together for nearly 25 years to preserve the building and make it accessible to all of the county’s constitu- ents. Since 1991, White County has received $293,204 through the AHPP’s County Courthouse Restoration Grant program for restoration work on the landmark building, in addition to another grant to prepare the old Searcy Post Office to serve as a courthouse annex (see sidebar). When Arkansas’s territorial General Assembly created White County on Oct. 23, 1835, it decreed that “until the seat of justice shall be located, the temporary seat shall be and the courts shall be held at the home of David Crise near the White


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he stately White County Courthouse in Searcy stands today as one of the finest examples of a Clas- sical Revival-style public building in Arkansas. Te Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and White


Sulphur Springs,” now the site of Oak Grove Cemetery. A five- man commission was established to select a permanent county seat, and in 1839 Crawford Walker donated 10 acres of land to them, which was sold to finance a one-story log building just southwest of the current courthouse. White County’s first permanent courthouse, with its furnishings, cost only $138.50. Interestingly, the original donation became embroiled in a kerfuffle involving land grants to veterans of the War of 1812 that eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court, making White County’s courthouse the only one in Arkansas whose location was adjudicated by the nation’s highest court. By 1850, the county needed a larger courthouse and a two-sto-


ry, wood-frame building featuring a pair of single-story adjacent wings was built for $1,000 on the site of the present courthouse. As White County continued to grow during that decade, govern- ment operations soon outgrew the 1850 structure and plans were made for a newer, larger courthouse to be constructed in 1861. Te Civil War, however, curtailed those plans and it was not until


COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2015


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