Buford School Building
The Buford School Building at 4439 Buford Road near Mountain Home (Baxter County) is a single-story two-room structure designed in the Craftsman style and constructed in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era public relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 4, 1992.
The town of Buford (Baxter County) reportedly had its origins in an 1870 wagon train in which a group of Mississippians who were headed for Texas instead diverted to Baxter County after hearing of a severe drought at their original destination. A post office was established at their settlement in 1879, and postmaster George Osborn named it Buford in honor of his son. The small town prospered, and the first Baxter County fairs were held in Buford between circa 1911 and 1915. The community’s education needs were met as part of Baxter County District 16. By 1931, the school in Buford had thirty students enrolled and an average daily attendance of twenty.
The WPA established a presence in Baxter County in the fall of 1935, with Baxter County District 16 providing $923 to supplement a $2,706 WPA grant to construct a new school at Buford. In January 1936, a community correspondent to the Baxter County Bulletin reported that “material is being placed on the ground for a new modern school house at Buford. We, as parents, are very thankful to the ones that secured it for the district and our children, as it was badly needed.” A few weeks later, the correspondent stated that “work is moving along very nicely on the new school house.”
The new stone-veneer two-room school building was one of the more elaborate projects the WPA undertook in Baxter County in 1936, where most WPA jobs involved work on roads or drainage. The agency was a Depression-era boon to the remote county, where by April 1936 a total of 465 men and women were working on WPA projects and collecting a monthly payroll totaling $10,000. The Buford School Building was completed in time for the fall 1936 school term and provided classrooms for all eight grades of Baxter County District 16.
The resulting building was a single-story structure exhibiting characteristics of the Craftsman style of architecture, such as exposed rafter tails, knee braces in the eaves, and a gray limestone veneer with grapevine mortaring. Its two classrooms were separated by a moveable partition, and one room featured a stage so that it could serve as an auditorium and performance space.
Baxter County District 16 was consolidated with the Mountain Home School District in 1947, but the Buford School House continued to serve grades one through six until the early 1960s, when it was closed and all grades began attending classes in Mountain Home. The Buford Volunteer Fire Department received the building in the 1980s and began using it as its headquarters and as a community center.
For additional information:
“Additional WPA Funds for Arkansas.” Arkansas Gazette, October 26, 1935, p. 1.
Baker, William D. Public Schools in the Ozarks, 1920–1940. Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1990. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed December 16, 2019).
“Buford.” Baxter County Bulletin, February 7, 1936, p. 3.
“Buford.” Baxter County Bulletin, January 17, 1936, p. 4.
Cothren, Zac. “Buford School: Baxter County Properties Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.” Baxter County History 31 (January–March 2005): 18–19.
Hope, Holly. An Ambition to be Preferred: New Deal Recovery Efforts and Architecture in Arkansas, 1933–1943. Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 2006. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed December 16, 2019).
Messick, Mary Ann. History of Baxter County: Centennial Edition, 1873–1973. Mountain Home, AR: Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce, 1973.
“News from the WPA Office.” Baxter County Bulletin, April 3, 1936, p. 1.
Story, Kenneth. “Buford School Building.” 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/BA0047.nr.pdf (accessed December 16, 2019).
“WPA Has 15 Projects in This County.” Baxter County Bulletin, March 20, 1936, p. 1.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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