Estes-Williams American Legion Hut 61
Estes-Williams American Legion Hut 61, located on Highway 62/412 in Yellville (Marion County), is a Rustic-style structure erected in 1933–1934 with assistance from the Civil Works Administration (CWA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 16, 2001.
Local veterans of World War I established an American Legion post at Yellville in December 1920. Not having a meeting hall, the Legionnaires met at the Morris Hotel on Yellville’s town square until 1933, when they received assistance from the CWA for construction of a legion hall, with the CWA providing materials and labor and local sources providing a site and transportation for construction materials.
Yellville’s town council donated the western half of the city park for the project, which would consist of a pine log building of 40 x 60 feet with a 16′ x 20′ attached kitchen and a pair of 8′ x 14′ restrooms. Local citizens donated the logs for the building, and “a number of parties who own trucks have agreed to assist in hauling the logs and stone free of charge,” the Mountain Echo reported. Legion members George Cavaness, Ruel Estes, and W. C. Wilbanks were appointed as a supervisory committee, with Estes, an experienced carpenter, serving as overseer. “While in a strict sense of the word, this is primarily an American Legion building, the boys say they intend to tender it to be used as a Community Hall for Yellville, as it will be of ample size and proper construction to make it ideal for this purpose,” the newspaper reported.
When the CWA was demobilized in early 1934 amid charges that it was hiring ineligible workers, the Yellville post—now designated as Denis Estes Post 61 in honor of a Summit (Marion County) man killed in action in 1918 during World War I—commenced fundraising to complete the project. “The Legion was very fortunate in securing the appropriation from the CWA for the major portion of the cost of the hut but in order to fully complete the building and furnish it the fund must be supplemented by donations from members and citizens of the county,” the Mountain Echo reported in March 1934, adding that $28 was raised on the first night of the appeal. The hut, slightly modified from its original design, was completed by September, when the Mountain Echo noted that a library had been opened in the building.
The post’s name was modified during World War II to honor local casualty John W. Williams of Yellville. The Estes-Williams Post 61 founded the original Turkey Trot Festival in 1946. The Legion hut received Arkansas Historic Preservation Program grants totaling $33,540 in 2005, 2009, and 2016. It remains an important part of the social fabric and built environment of Yellville in the twenty-first century.
For additional information:
“American Legion Hut to Be Built.” Mountain Echo, December 20, 1933, p. 1.
Berry, Earl. History of Marion County. Yellville, AR: Historic Genealogical Society of Marion County, Arkansas, 2002.
Cothren, Zac, and Larry Poetz. “Estes-Williams American Legion Hut #61.” 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/MR0056.nr.pdf (accessed September 13, 2019).
“Late Sunday Casualty Lists.” Arkansas Democrat, August 12, 1918, p. 4.
“Legion Committee to Raise Funds.” Mountain Echo, March 21, 1934, p. 1.
“Public Library Opens in Local Legion Hut.” Mountain Echo, September 5, 1934, p. 1.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
Last Updated: 09/13/2019