Dallas County Courthouse

The Dallas County Courthouse in Fordyce was erected in 1911. The building is the most elaborate structure in Dallas County to be built in the Classical Revival style of architecture. The courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 27, 1984.

On January 1, 1845, Dallas County was established, with Princeton being selected as the first seat of county government.The first courts in Princeton were held in the home of Presley Watts. The first Dallas County Courthouse was built in 1846 on the east side of the square in Princeton. In 1852, a second courthouse was built in Princeton at a cost of $6,000.The courthouse remained at Princeton until 1908, when it was officially moved to Fordyce, which lay on a railroad line. The expansion of the railroad through the county in 1882 had already prompted many of the businesses at Princeton to relocate to Fordyce.

The present-day courthouse is located at 3rd and Oak streets in Fordyce. The building was designed by architect Frank W. Gibb and built by Edgar L. Koonce at a cost of $65,000. Gibb is credited with designing sixty courthouses throughout Arkansas.

The current structure is a two-story brick building with a basement. The building features a clock tower positioned in the center of a flat roof. The roof is enclosed with a parapet wall. The construction of the porch includes a gabled roof with two porticos supported by four columns. A cupola crowns the dome at the top of the building. Modern additions include a portico built onto the west side of the courthouse building. In 2005, a mural was painted on the center hallway ceiling of the main floor by Dallas County resident Joann Dissie.

Dallas County has received ten courthouse grants from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council through the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. Since 1997, the county has been given $350,475 for the purposes of restoration and preservation, including $26,518 used to repair one of the main entrances of the courthouse.The grant also allowed for restoration of the marble walls, lowering of the ceilings, and refurbishing of the interior woodwork. The second-floor courtroom was remodeled and an elevator was added.

The courthouse serves as a significant example of the early architectural designs of Frank W. Gibb and remains a focal point and landmark in Dallas County. A marker stands on the front courthouse lawn in honor of Samuel Fordyce.

For additional information:
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. “Dallas County Courthouse Quick Facts.” County Lines (Fall 2012): 34.

“Dallas County Courthouse.” 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/DA0058.nr.pdf (accessed May 4, 2016).

Vosmik, Julie. “History and Architectural Heritage of Dallas County.” Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1991.

Pearl Lentz Sayles
Little Rock, Arkansas

Last Updated: 05/04/2016