American Legion Hut (Des Arc)
aka: Burson-Bethel Post 119 American Legion Hut
The American Legion Hut in Des Arc (Prairie County), located at 206 Erwin Street, is a Rustic-style structure erected in 1934 with assistance from the Civil Works Administration (CWA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 9, 1995.
Des Arc’s American Legion Post was named for two fallen soldiers during World War I: Edward Burson and Bedford B. Bethel of Des Arc. Burson, twenty-one, was killed in action in France on October 6, 1918, and Bethel, twenty-nine, died of pneumonia on October 30, 1918. As with several other American Legion posts around the state in the early 1930s, Burson-Bethel Post 119 decided to seek funding from the CWA to finance a new legion hut.
The Des Arc American Legion post received $2,716.40 in funding from the CWA (the National Register nomination erroneously states that it was funded by the Works Progress Administration) as Project No. 59-32-T2, with Legion members supplying logs and the property on which the hut was built, which was later deeded to the City of Des Arc. CWA records noted that “this project was sponsored by the American Legion of Des Arc and when completed will be a valuable asset in Des Arc and community as it will answer for a community building as well as a legion hut.”
Construction began in late February, and on March 21, 1934, the Arkansas Gazette reported that “a Legion hut is being erected [in Des Arc] under the direction of the CWA at Second and Erwin streets. The building is to be 30 feet wide and 60 feet long and is of native logs. Epps Brown Jr. is superintending the project.”
Legion members were actively involved in all phases of construction. Will Johnson bought the cypress logs from the King property, and Josh Stanley cut the trees down. They were floated nine miles down the White River to the construction site, where Calvin Vance Hall and his son stripped them of bark. Glen Pay was credited with fitting the logs into the building, and Bruce Garth built the brick fireplace. The finished building reflected the Rustic style of architecture popular with American Legion huts of the period.
The Des Arc American Legion hut was dedicated on June 7, 1934. Glen Wimmer of Burson-Bethel Post 119 gave the welcome, and speakers included Claude Brown and Merlin Fisher of the Arkansas Service Bureau and Charles Burkett of the American Red Cross. The building still serves the people of Des Arc as a community building in the twenty-first century.
For additional information:
Civil Works Administration Project Folders, Arkansas, Pope-Pulaski. Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.
“State News in Brief.” Arkansas Gazette, March 21, 1934, p. 7.
“State News in Brief.” Arkansas Gazette, June 10, 1934, p. 10.
Zollner, Patrick, “American Legion Hut – Des Arc.” 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/PR0050.nr.pdf (accessed February 4, 2020).
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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