EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 12th installment in the Courthouse Challenge series. From now until Thursday you can vote on the best looking courthouse in the region online at texarkanagazette.com. This Challenge is not paywall protected. Subscribers and non-subscribers can go to the polling page and vote.
The existing Sevier County Courthouse, built in 1930, was designed in the Neoclassical style by the Texarkana architectural firm of Witt, Seibert & Halsey. Several additions have been added since its original construction, in 1974 and again in 1975.
Neoclassical refers to the incorporation of symmetrical facades, which it had before the additions when looking at the building from the front. Seen from above the main part of the building resembles a thick-set lower-case "T" where the upper part of the "T" is the main entrance on 115 N. Third St. in De Queen, Ark.
Other characteristics of Neoclassical architecture include a projecting cornice with dentil courses. Dentils are an even series of rectangles often used as ornamentation. Pilasters, that dominate the face of the building from the bottom of the second floor to the top of the third floor, are shallow rectangular columns that project slightly outward from the face a building, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. The pilasters on the courthouse face have cast stone capitals and bases.
The doorway that serves as the main entrance continues the Neoclassical design with an arched entryway and a keystone above the door and decorative rosettes on either side. The brick on the first floor is done in a rusticated style, meaning the front edges of each brick are rounded, chiseled, or cut back to make its size and placing very clear. This gives the building a deliberately "rough cut" appearance on the ground floor.
Sevier County was officially formed Oct. 17, 1828, and the legislature designated Paraclifta, named after a Choctaw Indian chief, as the county seat in 1829. The first county courthouse was a log cabin in the public square. In 1867, Little River County was carved out of Sevier with the result that Paraclifta was no longer centrally located. The county seat was moved to Lockesburg in 1869-1871 (the records are contradictory).
When the railroad through the area was completed in 1897, it bypassed Lockesburg and a new city, named after Dutch merchant and railway financier, Jan de Goeijen (18611944) sprang up. The name was anglicized to De Queen, and after a special election March 1905, the county seat was moved there. The existing courthouse is the second one built in De Queen.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The Texarkana Gazette and texarkanagazette.com 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.)