Griffithville School was a one-story, brick-veneered building constructed in 1939 with assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 13, 1992, and demolished some years later.
Griffithville (White County) had its beginnings as a farming community called Dogwood Township in the 1850s. The first school was established in the area in 1867, and School District No. 1 was created six years later, with its school known as Dogwood School. The Griffithville Special School District was formed on December 7, 1900, and the existing school was expanded from one to four rooms; by the 1920s, it offered classes up to tenth grade. Eleventh and twelfth grades were added in 1934, and with the consolidation of six small schools into the Griffithville district, making around 100 students total, district officials decided to turn to one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal agencies for assistance in building a new school.
In 1938, the Griffithville Special School District received a $25,760 grant, matched by $3,050 in local funds, from the WPA to “construct a school building, with auditorium, in the town of Griffithville, White County, and perform incidental and appurtenant work.” Completed in 1939, the resulting structure was a rectangular, one-story building with three gable dormer windows along its northern roofline, exposed rafter tails, and banks of multi-paned windows that reflected the Craftsman style of architecture. The National Register nomination notes that the school was “one of only a few government-funded schools in White County constructed of brick rather than native stone, which was the preferred material of Works Progress and Civilian Conservation Corps workers. Its design, however, follows the same floorplan and stylistic details as other WPA and CCC buildings.”
The new school building was open for classes in the fall of 1940, and the campus continued to expand. By 1960, it included a gymnasium, agriculture building, home economics cottage, and lunchroom. With construction of a new elementary school in 1961, the WPA Griffithville School became the district’s high school. A 1973 fire destroyed the home economics building and lunchroom, but two years later, the gym was remodeled and a new elementary school library and high school were constructed. The WPA building then became the campus’s cafeteria.
The Griffithville School served its district until 1991, when Griffithville’s schools were consolidated with Kensett (White County) and Judsonia (White County) to form the Riverview School District, based in Searcy (White County). The Griffithville School was demolished sometime between 1994 and 2001.
For additional information:
Bayles, Jill. “Griffithville School.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at https://www.arkansasheritage.com/arkansas-historic-preservation-program (accessed September 26, 2022).
Howerton, Kathleen. “The History of Griffithville.” White County Heritage 18 (1980): 55–75.
Reinan, John. “Last Commencement May Be Beginning of Griffithville’s End.” Arkansas Gazette, May 24, 1991, pp. 1A, 6A.
WPA Central Office Files, 1938, Ala.–Arkansas, roll 1.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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