Gann Row Historic District
The Gann Row Historic District was located three blocks from downtown Benton (Saline County). It contained thirteen homes constructed between 1880 and 1924. The district was named for Dr. Dewell Gann Sr., who rented homes on the property to local workers and their families. The oldest homes in the district were in the Folk Victorian style, while the dominant style was Craftsman. The Gann Row Historic District was bordered on the north by West Maple, on the east by South Main, on the south by West Pine, and on the west by South Market. The Gann Row Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 5, 1999. By 2017, all the houses but one, 418 South Market, were owned by Doyle and Barbara Webb, who began operating the homes as rental properties. He sold them later that year, and most of the homes in the district were demolished in early 2018.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 31, 1863, Dewell Gann Sr. came to Arkansas to practice medicine with B. W. Mason in Sheridan (Grant County) in 1888. On September 4, 1889, he married Martha Whitthorne, daughter of Benton Courier owner Colonel Sam Whitthorne. Soon after the marriage, Gann moved to Benton, where he had an elaborate manor house (the Gann House) built on what is now South Market Street. The house was finished about 1895, and a small office made almost entirely out of hand-carved bauxite blocks had also been built next door. (The office later became the Gann Museum of Saline County.) However, in 1890, prior to the construction of his own home and office, Gann began purchasing lots near his future home in Benton. At the time, there were already four Folk Victorian homes there that were built between 1880 and 1890. In the 1920s, Gann applied Craftsman-style renovations to some of the homes.
Three of the earliest buildings in the Gann Row Historic District were at 411, 415, and 417 South Main Street. All three were built in the 1880s in the Folk Victorian style and were altered by Gann with full front porches and weatherboard siding in the 1920s. Homes at 402, 406, and 410 South Market Street were built in 1924 in the “rectangular bungalow” style with weatherboard siding and gabled front porches.
By 1929, Gann had bought all of Block 36 and had built all the houses facing South Market Street. Reportedly, these homes were built to house middle-class workers from Niloak and Eagle Pottery as well as nearby lumber mills, furniture makers like Owosso Manufacturing Co., and the old Arkansas State Hospital facility in Haskell (Saline County). The structure at 116 West Maple was originally constructed on the lot of the Hyten House at 211 South Main Street as a two-story garage for the home of Niloak Pottery maker Charles “Bullet” Hyten. In the 1930s, the garage was converted to a small apartment building. In 1997, Doyle and Barbara Webb formed Gann House Renovations, LLC, and began purchasing, renovating, and renting homes in the district, including the Gann House at 224 South Market Street (where the Webbs began living in 1998) and the former home of Charles Hyten on South Main Street. Gann House Renovations, LLC, moved the garage/apartment building to 116 West Maple, in the Gann Row Historic District, in 1998. On November 29, 2017, a block of the Gann Row Historic District was sold to Hipskind, which soon began tearing down the older houses to replace with more modern ones. By early February 2018, all the homes previously owned by Webb had been demolished.
For additional information:
“Dr. Dewell Gann, Sr. Has Been Practicing Medicine Here Nearly Half Century.” Benton Courier Centennial Number, March 25, 1937, p. 76.
Hope, Holly. “Gann Row Historic District.” 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/SA0119.nr.pdf (accessed December 7, 2017).
Cody Lynn Berry
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