Gentry’s Carpenter Building nominated for U.S. registry
GENTRY — A former mortuary in Gentry will be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places along with 17 other places, including an art deco apartment building in Hot Springs and Johnny Cash’s boyhood home at Dyess.
The state review board of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program met last Wednesday in Little Rock and approved all 18 properties under consideration, said Mark Christ, a spokesman for the program.
Christ said the board should hear back from the National Park Service within two months. He said at least 98 percent of the properties nominated by the board make the National Register, which is the official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation.
The Carpenter Building in Gentry is a single-story commercial building constructed of brick and hollow clay tile, according to the nomination form written by Charlie Bookout, one of the building’s owners.
The craftsman-style building is home to Mortuary Studios, where Bookout and the other four owners work on creative projects, including art, music and film.
While it may look like urban art space from the inside, “we always called ourselves a rural art studio,” Bookout said.
Every October, the building also serves as Carpenter’s Mortuary Spook House, which attracts between 2,000 and 3,000 children for Halloween screams.
The building was designed by Albert Oscar “A.O.” Clarke, a wellknown Arkansas architect who designed the two largest log buildings in the world at Monte Ne, a resort that’s now beneath Beaver Lake.
Clarke designed at least 27 structures in Benton, Carroll and Washington counties, including the Benton County Courthouse in Bentonville. The Carpenter Building was constructed from 1927 to 1929. Initially, the building housed a furniture store and grocery store in front along Main Street, and a mortuary in the back.
“The mortuary space included an embalming room, funeral parlor, chapel, and office space in the set of rooms that run along the entire rear of the building,” according to the nomination. “The building has survived amazingly intact with only a few alterations since its construction.”
The board meets three times a year and usually nominates eight to 15 properties for the National Register.
Charlie Bookout, one of the owners of The Carpenter Building in Gentry, stands in front of the building on Friday. The building is being nominated for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.