Carroll County Courthouse, Western District

The Carroll County Courthouse, Western District in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) was built in 1908 from a design by local builder William Octavos Perkins and reflects the Italianate style of architecture.

After Carroll County was created in 1833, its first seat of justice was in the home of William Sneed Jr., located between Carrollton (Carroll County) and Osage (Carroll County). Carrolton was selected as the county seat, and a two-story log courthouse was built in 1836, serving until a more substantial brick building was erected in 1844–1845. Fire destroyed that courthouse in the winter of 1859–1860, and a new one was not built until 1865 after the end of the Civil War. That building burned a year later, and a commercial building was moved to the center of the square to serve as a courthouse; it went up in flames in 1870.

Carroll County’s size was reduced by the creation of Searcy, Madison, Boone, and Newton counties, and by 1868, Carrollton was no longer in the center of the county. After two contentious elections, Berryville (Carroll County) was selected as the new county seat in 1875, and a new courthouse was built there in 1880–1881.

The Arkansas General Assembly established a second judicial district for Carroll County at Eureka Springs in 1883, with county government meeting in a rented room. In 1906, the people of Eureka Springs were ready for a permanent building. On the night before the quorum court was to vote on funding the new building, Claude A. Fuller, the mayor of Eureka Springs, found out that the two men representing the western district would not be at the meeting the next day, denying a quorum, so he sent his chief of police to find them and bring them to Berryville for the vote. He did, and their votes resulted in a tie, which County Judge Tom Fancher broke, allowing funding for the building.

On January 28, 1907, Fancher awarded a $17,000 contract to W. O. Perkins, whose lumberyard and mill shop created the gingerbread woodwork that decorated many of the elaborate Victorian-era homes in Eureka Springs. Limestone for the courthouse was cut and shaped at the Elk Ranch quarry about five miles from Eureka Springs, and the new building, constructed by the W.O. Perkins Lumber Company, was completed in 1908.

The Society of Architectural Historians describes the western district’s courthouse this way: “The three-story courthouse is tall and tightly massed in order to fit on its constricted site. In style it tends toward Italianate with its tall round-arched windows and deep bracketed eaves, but the rusticated limestone walls add a suggestion of Romanesque Revival. A square tower marks the arched entrance, which is accessed by a double flight of stairs rising directly from the narrow sidewalk. The tower concludes with a domelike roof pierced by enormous dormer windows.”

Eureka Springs provided $2,500 of the money spent to construct the courthouse, so the city was given the bottom floor to house municipal offices while county government occupied the rest of the building, an arrangement that continues in the twenty-first century.

The Carroll County Courthouse, Western District is a contributing building in the Eureka Springs Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 18, 1970.

For additional information:
“Brief History of Carroll County Court Houses.” Carroll County Historical Quarterly 21 (Winter 1977): 2–6.

“Carroll County Courthouse, Western District.” SAH Archipedia. (accessed June 14, 2023).

Christ, Mark K. “Two Seats of Power Arise Post-War.” County Lines (Winter 2017): 32–34.

Deane, Ernie. “Carroll County’s Two Courthouses.” Arkansas Gazette, November 4, 1962, p. 5E.

“News of Other Days.” Arkansas Gazette, January 28, 1932, p. 4.

Smith, Sandra Taylor. “Eureka Springs Historic District.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at (accessed June 14, 2023).

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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