Gen­try’s Car­pen­ter Build­ing nom­i­nated for U.S. registry

Westside Eagle-Observer - - NEWS - BILL BOWDEN bbow­

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.

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