Court­house is on Na­tional Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places

Texarkana Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - (ED­I­TOR’S NOTE: This is the third in­stall­ment in the Court­house Chal­lenge se­ries. From now un­til Dec. 20 you can vote on the best look­ing court­house in the re­gion on­line at This Chal­lenge is not pay­wall pro­tected. Sub­scribers and non

The Hemp­stead County Court­house in Hope, Ark., was built in 1939, only a year af­ter the city of Hope beat out Wash­ing­ton, Ark., in a vote for county seat.

Hope had been cam­paign­ing for the ti­tle for six decades. Prior to 1939, the court­house was lo­cated in Wash­ing­ton, Ark., a town known to many as his­toric “Old Wash­ing­ton.”

The court­house is lo­cated at the north­west cor­ner of Fifth and Wash­ing­ton streets in Hope. The five-story ma­sonry struc­ture was de­signed by the Lit­tle Rock firm of McAn­inch and An­der­son, and built in 1939 with fund­ing from the Pub­lic Works Ad­min­is­tra­tion, a De­pres­sion-era fed­eral jobs pro­gram.

It is an ex­am­ple of art deco ar­chi­tec­ture with an en­try framed by a se­ries of molded con­crete pan­els, sep­a­rated by in­verted chevrons.

The pan­els de­pict a va­ri­ety of in­dus­tries and pro­fes­sions, in­clud­ing con­struc­tion, min­ing, medicine, de­fense, elec­tric­ity, farm­ing

and brick mak­ing. Chevron pan­el­ing is re­peated in the cor­nice. The in­te­rior of the build­ing is vir­tu­ally un­al­tered, ex­cept for two court­rooms on the up­per floors, which re­quired com­plete ren­o­va­tion fol­low­ing a light­ning-in­duced fire in 1979. The 1939 build­ing has had a large jail added, but this was done in a sym­pa­thetic man­ner to the orig­i­nal’s de­sign.

The build­ing was listed on the Na­tional Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places in 1994.

Fire has threat­ened the Hemp­stead County Court­house twice.

On Dec. 12, 1947, the boiler caught fire. A sher­iff’s deputy turned off the gas and con­tained the fire be­fore struc­tural dam­age oc­curred. On July 10, 1979, light­ning struck the court­house, start­ing a fire that gut­ted the third-floor court­room. The fire fol­lowed the com­ple­tion of a $30,000 ren­o­va­tion to di­vide the large third-floor court­room. Court re­sumed in the build­ing on April 22, 1980, fol­low­ing a $265,000 re­con­struc­tion pro­ject.

The fate of this court­house is un­known, how­ever, as a move is planned in the near fu­ture.

The county plans to move all court­house busi­ness to the Farmer’s Bank and Trust Build­ing at 200 East Third St., Hope.

Like many court­houses built dur­ing the 1930s by the WPA, signs of age are sur­fac­ing.

The ex­ist­ing court­house has as­bestos and the roof leaks. It also is not in com­pli­ance with Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act stan­dards for bath­rooms. When the court­house was built in 1939, the stan­dards didn’t ex­ist.

(ED­I­TOR’S NOTE: The Texarkana Gazette and will present one court­house a day

(14 in all) un­til Dec. 18. At our web­site you can vote on the best look­ing court­house. There you will find a di­rect link in one of the main dis­play win­dows, or you can click on any of the re­lated court­house sto­ries for links to the Chal­lenge. You will also find links to the polling site from our Face­book page, and some of you may find links through Break­ing News or Up­dates we send out through email.

The sys­tem that man­ages the Chal­lenge will ac­cept one vote per com­puter or mo­bile de­vice. The top three vote-get­ters, in re­verse or­der, will be fea­tured in ar­ti­cles from Dec. 28 to Dec. 30. A week be­fore this an­nounce­ment three other court­houses will be fea­tured, no­table build­ings that are ei­ther out­side this re­gion, or are no longer ac­tive county seats. These are not part of the Court­house Chal­lenge, but we think you will find them in­ter­est­ing. All the court­houses in the Chal­lenge can be seen at the on­line polling site.)

Staff photo by Hunt Mercier

■ Hemp­stead County Court­house was built in 1939 in Hope, Ark.

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