Clarksville High School Building No. 1

The Clarksville High School Home Economics Building in Clarksville (Johnson County) was a one-story Craftsman-style brick building designed and constructed in 1936–37 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal public relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 10, 1992.

In late August 1936, the Clarksville school board decided to take advantage of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs and seek funding for additional buildings to bolster the offerings on its high school campus. Clarksville’s Herald Democrat reported on August 27 that “projects were worked out and submitted to the Works Progress Administration for a Smith-Hughes building and a home economics cottage, a gymnasium and repair of all school buildings in the district.”

The request was partially successful, and the WPA awarded $11,374, to be matched with $3,250 from local sources, for a project “to erect brick veneer agriculture building and home economics cottage including installation of plumbing, electrical fixtures, millwork and hardware on high school complex.” The people of Clarksville were excited at the prospect of the new structures, and more than 150 people attended a meeting to discuss fundraising to match the WPA contribution.

Construction began on the buildings in mid-October 1936. The Arkansas Gazette reported on October 13 that “work has started today on two new buildings for the Clarksville Consolidated School District. One will house the Home Economics Department and the other the Vocational Education Department. The former building will be 34 by 51 feet and the latter, 34 by 59 feet in dimensions.” Ed Basham of Clarksville was designated foreman of the project.

The Home Economics Building, listed on the National Register under the name Clarksville High School Building No. 1, was a rectangular, wood-frame building veneered with brick and designed in one of the more elaborate interpretations of the Craftsman style among Arkansas’s WPA-built school buildings, with the National Register nomination noting that “significant exterior details include the stepped brick chimney, the exposed rafters around the cornice, the stucco and half-timbering in all the pediments, and the row of doghouse dormers that echo the pediment of the porch and thus lend the façade such rhythm.”

Construction of the two new buildings and hiring of teachers for the new home economics and vocational technical programs delayed the start of the 1937–38 school year, but the Herald Democrat reported that the home economics cottage was “built on the order of an ordinary home,” while the “vocational agricultural building will [have] an office, a classroom and ample work benches and other equipment necessary to teaching proficiency in farm work.” Classes began on September 20, 1937.

The Clarksville Home Economics Building served the Clarksville district into the twenty-first century, but the Clarksville City Council voted in November 2012 to build a police station on the same site. The building was demolished soon after.

For additional information:
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 April 29, 2020).

“County Schools Opened Today.” Herald Democrat, September 23, 1937, p. 2.

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 April 29, 2020).

“New Building Work Discussed at Meeting.” Herald Democrat, October 22, 1936, p. 1.

“School Improvement Projects Submitted by District 17.” Herald Democrat, August 27, 1936, p. 1.

“School to Begin Late This Year.” Herald Democrat, August 26, 1937, p. 1.

Story, Kenneth. “Clarksville High School Building No. 1.” 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/JO0064.nr.pdf (accessed April 29, 2020).

“Two New Buildings Started for Clarksville School District.” Arkansas Gazette, October 13, 1936, p. 2.

WPA Central Office Files, 1935–1937, Arkansas (Johnson-Yell Cos.), roll no. 3. Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System

Last Updated: 04/29/2020