Dallas County Museum
In September 1993, the State of Arkansas chartered the Dallas County Museum in Fordyce (Dallas County). In the spring of 1995, Frank Hickingbotham, owner of Citizens Bank, donated the old bank building to the museum; the museum materials had previously been housed in a back room at the local Chamber of Commerce. Formerly the McKee Building, the 1907 structure was restored to include a new, native red oak staircase and a new elevator; original bank vaults and safes remain in the building. The Dallas County Museum provides 13,000 square feet of exhibition and office space at 221 North Main Street in the Fordyce Commercial Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. An annex opened in the Nutt-Trussell Building, which was donated to the museum in 2000. The annex, located at the corner of 2nd and Main streets, houses a sports museum, the Dallas County Hall of Honor, and the Sports Hall of Fame.
Featured at the Dallas County museum are Native American artifacts with an emphasis on the Caddo; Dr. Thomas E. Rhine’s room of medical and military displays; and exhibits on the geology of Dallas County, early settlers and frontier life, trains, and forestry. An early twentieth-century schoolroom is portrayed, with an adjacent room displaying photographs and yearbooks from various schools in Fordyce and around the county. Separate rooms display artifacts from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Also on display is the most extensive collection of operational telephone equipment in the state. An archives room houses the histories of the communities, organizations, and genealogies of families in the area. A stuffed polar bear, donated by a native of Fordyce, is a primary focus in the gift shop area. An original bone and tooth from an allosaurus dinosaur found on a farm in Wyoming, along with a cast of its head, were a gift to the museum by the family of a man who grew up in Fordyce.
The museum has approximately 25,000 envelopes of negatives from the Alexander Photography Studio in Fordyce, which operated from about 1930 to 1960. Prints made from these negatives are available to order for a fee.
In 2000, Dr. Thomas Trussell donated the two-story Nutt-Trussell Building, also listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, to the Dallas County Museum. This became the Bill Mays Annex, and the Dallas County Sports Hall of Fame and the Hall of Honor are housed upstairs, profiling past and present Fordyce residents who made significant contributions to society. In 2015, the Dallas County Sports Museum branch opened. Featured in the exhibits are Paul “Bear” Bryant, Quinnie Hamm and the Sparkman Sparklers, Coach Larry Lacewell, John Ed Anthony, Coach Jimmy “Red” Parker, Houston Nutt Sr., Houston Nutt Jr., Kevin Williams, and Jim Benton, along with photographs and memorabilia of teams and players. The history of the Fordyce Redbugs high school football team is recorded in an exhibit.
The privately owned Dallas County Museum has a board of directors and is staffed by volunteers. Private donations, Dallas County, and the City of Fordyce provide support for the museum.
For additional information:
Clift, Zoie. “Intriguing History Found at Dallas County Museum in Fordyce.” http://www.arkansas.com/blog/post/visiting-the-dallas-county-museum-in-fordyce/ (accessed August 26, 2020).
Dallas County Museum. https://www.arkansas.com/fordyce/attractions-culture/dallas-county-museum (accessed August 26, 2020).
“Fordyce Commercial Historical District.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/DA0251.nr.pdf (accessed August 26, 2020).
Ledbetter, Richard. “Museum Is Window to Dallas County History.” Pine Bluff Commercial, July 4, 2021, pp. 1, 4. Online at https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/jul/04/museum-is-window-todallas-county-history/ (accessed July 6, 2021).
Sandra Parham Turner, Melrose Smith Bagwell, and Agnes Wynne Phillips
Dallas County Museum
Last Updated: 08/26/2020