Bunch-Walton Post 22 American Legion Hut
The Bunch-Walton Post 22 American Legion Hut in Clarksville (Johnson County), a two-story, native-stone structure built on a raised foundation on what was formerly an island in Spadra Creek, is one of the most architecturally interesting legion huts in Arkansas. It displays an unusual castellated design that is best described as Normanesque, perhaps designed to simulate the architecture veterans had seen in Europe during World War I.
The Lee Bunch Post 22 was formed in Clarksville in February 1919 when fifteen veterans applied to form a Johnson County post. It was named for Lee Bunch, the first Johnson County soldier to die in World War I. The group initially met in local homes, churches, and clubs, but in February 1932 the Civic Club, for one dollar, sold the post an island between the main stream and west fork of Spadra Creek near downtown Clarksville.
In 1934, the Civil Works Administration (CWA), a Depression-era federal relief agency, approved Project No. 36-34 T 2, which authorized the construction of a community building in Clarksville. The post’s ladies’ auxiliary sold cement for seventy cents per bag to finance the building’s foundation and to raise some of the local matching funds needed to secure CWA funding. The building was dedicated on Memorial Day 1934 in a ceremony led by Charles Q. Kelley, the Arkansas Department commander of the American Legion. The Arkansas Legionnaire noted that “a fish fry culminating a membership contest between Russellville and Clarksville was given during the afternoon. Lee Bunch Post at Clarksville won the contest which made it necessary for the Riggs Hamilton Post of Russellville to pay all expenses for the fish fry.”
The chapter was re-chartered after World War II as Bunch-Walton Post 22 in honor of Captain Raymond Charles Walton, the co-pilot of a bomber that was shot down over Italy in 1943. He was the first casualty of that war from Johnson County.
Because of its somewhat remote location, the Bunch-Walton Post 22 American Legion Hut suffered from frequent vandalism, especially after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a levee and diverted the west fork of Spadra Creek in the 1970s, making the building’s location no longer an island. After a tornado further damaged the windows in the 1970s, post members bricked up the openings. Plastic laminate was later placed over the windows on the building’s front façade to simulate glass windows.
The Bunch-Walton Post 22 American Legion Hut, with its Normanesque appearance and castellated turrets, remains one of the most architecturally distinctive buildings in Clarksville and unique among the other Legion huts in Arkansas. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 24, 2007.
For additional information:
“Bunch-Walton Post #22 American Legion Hut.” 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/JO0111.nr.pdf (accessed November 9, 2020).
“Cornerstone Laid for Legion Home in Clarksville.” Arkansas Legionnaire, February 3, 1934.
“Huts at Clarksville and Paris Dedicated.” Arkansas Legionnaire, June 2, 1934.
Mark K. Christ
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
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