Garrett Whiteside Hall

Garrett Whiteside Hall, located at the corner of North Third Avenue and Lockesburg Street in Nashville (Howard County), is a single-story, wood-frame gymnasium built in 1940 through the National Youth Administration (NYA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 21, 1994.

The public school system in Nashville had its origins in the 1880s when the Nashville Academy opened; it had three teachers and 115 students by 1890. The original 1886 wood-frame school building burned in 1931 and was replaced a year later. As the Great Depression yielded President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal agencies, the school district sought funding for a gymnasium through the NYA. In part through the aid of Nashville native Garrett Whiteside, who had served as the secretary of Congressmen Ben Cravens and Otis T. Wingo and Senators Thaddeus and Hattie Caraway, the school district received a $14,000 NYA grant to finance construction.

Construction on the gymnasium started in May 1939, and school officials announced a month later that the new gym on the Nashville High School campus would be named for Whiteside in recognition of his assistance in gaining the funding. By late August 1940, the building was largely completed, and by mid-October school officials began planning a dedication.

The finished building was a 78′ x 106′ rectangular wood-frame structure with a distinctive domed roof formed by steel bowstring trusses. It could hold 800 people for sporting events and around 2,000 when chairs were brought in for other events, many involving the stage at the west end of the building.

Bad weather canceled the first date set for the dedication, but around 500 people attended the event when it was held on December 20, 1940. Superintendent E. T. Moody served as master of ceremonies, while school board president C. G. Hughes gave an address on “The Value of the Hall to the City and School” and district NYA head Edwin C. Dean of Camden (Ouachita County) spoke on “NYA Work and Its Purpose and Accomplishments.” Moody read a letter from Whiteside expressing his regrets at not being able to attend.

The gym was immediately put to use with a triple-header of basketball games in which the Nashville junior boys beat the team from Kirby (Pike County) 37–12, Nashville’s senior boys fell to Mineral Springs (Howard County) 21–19, and Nashville’s senior girls defeated Center Point (Howard County) 39–10.

Garrett Whiteside Hall, the last surviving school building of its era in Nashville, continues to serve the community in the twenty-first century as the home of the city’s Pee Wee Basketball League.

For additional information:
Baldwin, Robin Louise. “Garrett Whiteside Hall.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/HO0040.nr.pdf (accessed March 19, 2020).

“State News Briefs (Nashville).” Arkansas Gazette, May 23, 1939, p. 7.

“Nashville Gym Will Be Named Garrett Whiteside Hall.” Arkansas Gazette, June 25, 1939, p. 2.

“Nashville Auditorium Ready for Use Soon.” Arkansas Gazette, August 25, 1940, p. 2.

“Nashville’s Burned Business Houses to Be Replaced.” Arkansas Gazette, October 13, 1940, p. 10.

“State News Briefs (Nashville).” Arkansas Gazette, December 15, 1940, p. 6.

“Nashville’s Whiteside Hall Opened.” Arkansas Gazette, December 21, 1940, p. 2.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System

Last Updated: 09/21/2021