The Gurdon Jail is a small structure located in the former timber boom town of Gurdon (Clark County). It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 24, 1989. It stands derelict in the twenty-first century.
Gurdon was incorporated in 1880. The timber town was founded on the Cairo and Fulton Railroad, and the addition of another line to Camden (Ouachita County) and a third to Montgomery County in 1906 brought hundreds to the community. The growing population attracted numerous businesses to the town, as well as crime. While major criminals were transported to Arkadelphia (Clark County), locals arrested for petty offenses often remained in their community, creating the need for a jail in Gurdon.
The Gurdon Jail was likely constructed in 1907, although that date is in question because a structure of roughly the same size and in the same location appears on a map from 1897. Built by M. D. Lowe of the Gurdon Brick Company, the building is constructed of red brick and is a single story, topped with a tin roof. The building faces south and was originally constructed as one cell. The building was later divided into two cells, which are accessible from two individual doors located on the front of the building. A wooden door dating from the original construction of the jail covers the entrance to the cell on the west. The second door is constructed from metal and was installed when the building was divided into two cells. Both doors are externally locked with padlocks. Each cell has a recessed window on the side and in the rear. The windows are covered with a metal grate. The interior includes a strip tongue-and-groove wooden ceiling and toilet fixtures that are original.
The jail is located near the intersection of South Front and West Joslyn. A sign was placed by the Clark County Historical Association on the exterior of the building displaying an 1897 construction date. Another plaque below the sign calls the structure the “Gurdon Calaboose” and lists a construction date of 1908. It also includes the information that the building was restored in 1985 by the Gurdon Historical Preservation Association. The building is owned by the town of Gurdon and is in dilapidated condition.
For additional information:
“Gurdon Jail.” National Register for Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/CL0900.nr.pdf (accessed March 9, 2018).
Richter, Wendy, et al. Clark County Arkansas: Past and Present. Arkadelphia, AR: Clark County Historical Association, 1992.
Henderson State University
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