Opposite Page: The Bradley County Courthouse was completed in 1903. Above: The small brick structure erected next door to the courthouse has served as the county clerk’s office, the sheriff’s office, a museum and a library. Right: Pictured is the staircase inside the courthouse, which is three stories tall.

None can compare, though, to the 1903 Bradley County Courthouse, a fanciful interpretation of Classical Revival ar- chitecture designed by Frank W. Gibb. Te Arkansas Historic Preservation Program has worked with Bradley County since 1996 to preserve this landmark, including a monumental project in 2015 and 2016 (see related article). Bradley County was created from part of Union County on

Dec. 18, 1840, and at the time contained all the land from which Cleveland, Lincoln, Ashley and Drew counties would be formed. It was named in honor of Capt. Hugh Bradley, an early explorer of the Red River region who settled near modern-day Warren. A monument to Bradley, a War of 1812 veteran from Tennessee, stands today on the courthouse lawn. Te first county court meeting was held in Capt. Brad-

ley’s cabin on April 5, 1841, but after John Marks and John Splawn donated land for a county seat — originally called Pennington’s Settlement, but soon named Warren — a log building with a fireplace at each end was built in 1843 to house county government. Tis humble structure sufficed until 1858, when contractors Sweeney, Copeland and Pen- nington were engaged to construct a new building. Tis courthouse, a two-story, stucco-encased edifice, was com- pleted in 1861 and cost $7,498. While the second courthouse building was still in use, a small brick structure was erected next door to house the Bradley County Clerk’s office. Completed in 1890, it displays a modest Italianate-style design topped by a rather elaborate metal roof topped by shaped metal cresting. Still standing


adjacent to the courthouse, the building has also housed the Sheriff’s Office, a museum and a library over the years. When Bradley County officials decided a new courthouse was needed, they turned to Little Rock architect Frank W. Gibb for what may have been the first of his many court- house projects. While the Bradley County project was com- pleted in 1903, Gibb also designed courthouses in Calhoun County (1909), Dallas County (1911), Phillips and Yell counties (1914) and Franklin County (1923). His obitu- ary, in fact, credited him with nearly 60 courthouse designs, many of which do not survive. E.L. Koonce, the contractor for the Warren building, partnered with Gibb on at least three of the other Arkansas courthouses. Te Bradley County Courthouse features a central core

area that is flanked by wings and towers — a design that would be a hallmark of Gibb-designed county seats. Its two- toned brick exterior is an unusual detail, and the brick sec- tions of the two-story building are separated by a cut-stone water table and belt course, creating a mixed-masonry effect. Its primary façade centers on a central, flat-roofed portico flanked by Tuscan columns, and most of the windows are capped with keystone arches. Te most striking feature of the building is the three-story

bell tower on the building’s southwest corner (yes, the bell still works). Te tower includes classical arched windows, a four-faced clock and a cupola with arched openings and

See “COURTHOUSE” on Page 42 >>> 41

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