Charles "Bullet" Dean Hyten House
The house at 211 South Main Street in Benton (Saline County) was the home of Niloak Pottery creator Charles Dean “Bullet” Hyten. Now owned by former Arkansas state senator Doyle L. Webb II, the house is home to a small business. Because of its connection with Hyten and construction at the height of his popularity, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 24, 2012.
Charles Dean Hyten was born in Benton to John Franklin Hyten and Hattie Brown Hyten on March 14, 1877. He was one of four children. After the death of her husband in 1881, Hattie married a man named Frank Woosley. Hyten and his brothers, Paul and Lee, took control of the family pottery business from Woosley in 1895. The Hyten brothers stayed in Benton, making clay pottery. When Paul and Lee left after two years, Charles Dean Hyten continued without them, renting the business. In 1902, he had enough capital to take it over while working as a journeyman potter. Hyten married Cora Caldwell on February 5, 1901.
In 1909, with the help of fellow potter Arthur Dovey, Hyten developed the now famous “mission swirl” design that made Niloak famous. In 1922, as his pottery was becoming more popular, Hyten built a one-story bungalow at 211 South Main Street as a rental property. Reportedly, Hyten demolished his mother’s home next door and used pieces of it to build the home. The Great Depression forced him to move into the house and sell his business. The Craftsman bungalow, which had concrete barriers on three sides, had a separate two-car garage.
After Hyten died in 1944, his daughters inherited the house. Arlene Hyten Rainey, her husband Nelson, and their family lived in the main house, while her sister Norma and her family moved into the converted garage-apartment behind it in the 1950s.
As the family continued to grow, a second story was added to the house in 1932 and expanded circa 1940, adding another room. An interior wall was moved between the living room and a bedroom to make a large sunroom area adjacent to the living room. The house’s most notable feature was Hyten’s Niloak fireplace in the living room. The exterior features clapboard siding painted gray with white trim. Its front façade features a brick and concrete pathway with steps leading to the porch. The roof is supported by four columns with decorative lattice work in between them. There are two 10′ x 10′ windows and a door hung just right of center and a one-over-one double-hung window.
The front door is accented by an original gasolier fixture. When the Raineys sold the house in the 1970s, they moved to a new house nearby. Doyle L. Webb II and his wife, Barbara Webb, purchased it through their company Gann House Renovations, LLC, and had the garage-apartment building moved to the nearby Gann Row Historic District at 116 West Maple Street. It has since been renovated and leased for office space.
For additional information:
Fields, Kelsey. “Charles ‘Bullet’ Dean Hyten House.” 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/SA0124.nr.pdf (accessed January 24, 2018).
Rainey, Arlene Hyten. “Pottery Hill Military Road.” In Saline County: Recollections of Early Settlers. 2nd ed. Benton, AR: Saline County History and Heritage Society, 2015.
Cody Lynn Berry
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