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Howard County Courthouse boasts lavish entrance

Howard County Courthouse boasts lavish entrance

December 6th, 2018 by Gazette Staff in Texarkana News

The Howard County Courthouse was built in 1938 in the art deco design popular in the 1930s.

Photo by Gazette Staff /Texarkana Gazette.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second installment in the Courthouse Challenge series. From now until Dec. 20 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.)


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The Howard County Courthouse is often described as having "handsome" or "lavish" features that reflect civic pride.

The building, constructed in 1939, has the art moderne or art deco design prevalent in that era.

However, the two-story structure is unique because of materials used in its construction.

Specifically, the courthouse's key entrance boasts green and black marble, an expensive finish material. The marble also separates the first- and second-floor windows on the courthouse's front side.

The interior sports carved woodwork in the courtroom, above the doorways and original wood panel doors, according to the National Register of Historic Places application.

"Clearly, the architects and the people of Howard County were making a statement of civic pride in spite of the pressing economic conditions prevalent throughout the nation via the relatively lavish outfitting of their new courthouse," reads an Arkansas map listing the National Register Courthouses of Arkansas.

The courthouse was put on the National Register of Historic Place in 1990.

Located at 421 N. Main St. in Nashville, Ark., its construction was partially funded by the Public Works Administration, a lesser-known and shorter-lived federal program than the Works Progress Administration.

It was designed by Little Rock's Erhart &Eichenbaum firm with Fayetteville contractor E.V. Bird over construction.

Howard County courthouse

Howard County courthouse

Because of the expensive materials used, Howard County residents paid $66,000 of the $120,000 budget, according to the National Register of Historic Places application.

This gave county residents a voice in the courthouse's aesthetics.

Howard County was created on April 17, 1873, from parts of Hempstead, Pike, Polk and Sevier counties, according to the National Register of Historic Places application.. It was named for James Howard, the state senator for the area at that time. The original county seat was at Centrepoint (approximately 15 miles to the north) until the completion of the railroad in 1884 between Hope and Nashville.

The focus of activities gradually shifted, and the county seat was moved to Nashville by 1905, according to the National Register of Historic Places application.

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(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. You can 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.)

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