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


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to Gaines Street. By 1869 the Drew County Quorum Court decided that a


Top left: The 1932 Drew County Courthouse, designed by Little Rock Architect H. Ray Burks, is three-and-one-half stories tall, with marble steps and steel railings that emulate the exterior metal work on the windows. (See top right photo.)


Jefferson’s home in Virginia. A wood-frame courthouse was erected in 1851 and apparently was soon outgrown, as a new and presumably larger frame courthouse was built in 1856- 57. Te original building is believed to have been moved to the west side of the courthouse square to be used as a law office by S.F. Arnett. In 1887 the building was leased by F.A. Lane, an evidently cantankerous tenant who refused the request by a Monticello bank to vacate the building so that it could use the lot. Te bank simply confiscated the structure and moved it, with all of Lane’s belongings, across the square


COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2017


new and more elaborate building was needed. A committee was appointed to oversee the project, and it hired the Jones and Baldwin architectural firm in Memphis to design the new building. Tey chose the elaborate Second Empire style as the design for the new building – a relatively scarce style in the state, the best-known example of which is Old Main at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Te cornerstone was laid amid elaborate ceremony on October 20, 1870, and L.W. Lisenby of Little Rock was hired to build the structure. Construction was finished in May 1872, when the clock was installed on the soaring, Mansard-roofed tower that loomed 120 feet above downtown Monticello. Te final project cost was $35,689. Tough still structurally sound, the building was unfortunately demolished in 1933. In 1931, County Judge W.E. Spencer issued an order during the April term of the quorum court for an election to consider building a new courthouse and to establish a tax to pay for it. Despite the economic upheaval caused by the Great Depression, the people of Drew County approved the project and tax in a May 16 election. A commission of men from Monticello, Tillar, Wilmar and Jerome was formed to oversee the project. Tey hired Little Rock architect H. Ray Burks, who also designed courthouses in Lonoke, Russellville and DeWitt. On September 16, 1931, contracts were is- sued for Hewitt and Russell of Little Rock to build the new courthouse, with Pfeifer Plumbing Company and Arkansas Electric Company of Little Rock handling the utilities. With the 1872 courthouse still occupying the town square,


the Advance Monticellonian reported that “after much care- ful consideration the commissioners decided on the beautiful lot known as Whittington Grove, about 2 blocks from Court Square on South Main Street.” Te new courthouse was dedicated with appropriate fanfare on July 4, 1932, at a final


See “COURTHOUSE” on Page 38 >>> 37


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