Baxter County Courthouse

The Baxter County Courthouse was opened the week of August 13, 1943. Designed by Fayetteville (Washington County) architect T. Ewing Shelton, who used a Plain Traditional style with minimal Art Deco influences, the building is minimalistic in nature, reflecting the “functional emphasis common to Depression-era projects.” The Baxter County Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 26, 1995.

Located at 1 East 7th Street in Mountain Home (Baxter County), the Baxter County Courthouse was constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) between 1941 and 1943. The exterior is cut stone with buff brick veneer, with the only decoration being marble panels in a variety of patterns resting between the basement and first floor, between the first and second floors, and as a thin line between the third story and the roof. A single brick chimney rises from the center of the northern edge of the roof.

The interior courtroom walls are two stories high with four-foot hickory wainscoting. The third floor overlooking the courtroom is a law library and houses the jury room; it previously housed the county jail. Besides the doors and windows being replaced with newer, more efficient versions, the remaining interior and exterior are original.

Almost fifty percent of courthouse funding came from a one-half-mill tax, later upgraded to a two-mill tax. It was supposed to cost taxpayers around $40,000 if the WPA were to build it, but the final cost of the courthouse was approximately $51,000 to taxpayers, the total cost being $104,568.

The courthouse funding and building were sources of contention among the people of Baxter County. When the election was held to determine if the new courthouse would be built and how it would be funded, 731 voted for the courthouse, while 592 voted against. Of the 592 against, most came from the nearby town of Cotter (Baxter County), a town that had been in constant struggle with Mountain Home and had been turned down for the spot of county seat several times.

Several decorative and commemorative pieces of art reside in and around the courthouse, including two 12′ x 5′ oil paintings of the dams on Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes, a bronze tablet cast from metal of the USS Maine, a marker commemorating the Trail of Tears, and a memorial to Baxter County veterans of World War I and World War II.

For additional information:
“Baxter County Courthouse.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/BA0045.nr.pdf (accessed May 18, 2015).

“Getting a New Courthouse.” Baxter County History 36 (July–December 2010): 13–34.

Messick, Mary Ann. The History of Baxter County, 1873–1973. Mountain Home, AR: Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce, 1973.

Danny Groshong
Little Rock, Arkansas

Last Updated: 11/09/2018