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AAC F A M I L Y & F R I E N D S Courthouse


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Left: In 1872, the Hempstead County judge ordered money appropriated for a new courthouse. This building was completed in 1874 at a cost of less than $22,000. Right: The 1874 courthouse, an example of Italianate-style architecture, featured an upstairs courtroom. The building eventually was sold to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. It now serves as the visitor center for Historic Washington State Park.


Even as the county seat case worked its way through the


Arkansas court system, the people of Hope made plans for a new courthouse in the railroad town. Hope Mayor Albert Graves visited Washington, D.C., to lobby for a grant from the Public Works Administration, one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, an effort that on Dec. 14, 1938, resulted in a $95,400 grant for the $198,450 project. An election was held on Nov. 8, 1938, and Hempstead County voters overwhelmingly approved construction and funding of the new building. Te Grand Lodge of Arkansas laid the cornerstone on Nov. 29, 1939, continuing a century of Masonic partnership with Hempstead County’s courthouses. Construction was complete by April 30, 1940, and the first court sessions were held in the new building on May 13. Little Rock’s McAninch and Anderson architectural firm designed the building, creating an imposing Art Deco-style monolith. In addition to the vertical emphasis typical of the style, the four-story Hempstead County Courthouse


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features stylized geometric details along its front façade as well as cast-concrete figurative panels flanking the front door displaying both classical themes and modern scenes of agriculture and industry; a stylized eagle serves as a lintel for the door. Te interior features marble steps and wainscoting and decorative tile floors. Te 1939 Hempstead County Courthouse has served its constituents faithfully for nearly 80 years, and in 2016 the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program awarded the county a $16,465 County Courthouse Restoration Grant, funded through the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Re- sources Council, to prepare a master plan for the building’s preservation. However, the Hempstead County Quorum Court voted on Feb. 23, 2017, to purchase the former Farmer’s Bank Building in downtown Hope to serve as a new home for county government operations. Te ulti- mate fate of the Hempstead County Courthouse, a symbol of Hope’s historic drive to become the county seat and a marvel of Art Deco architecture, remains unknown.


COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2017


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