James E. M. Barkman House

The James E. M. Barkman House, constructed in Arkadelphia (Clark County) in about 1860, is an example of a transitional Greek and Gothic Revival–style house. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, the building is now owned by Henderson State University.

James Barkman was the son of Jacob Barkman and Rebecca Davis Barkman, who settled along the Caddo River in 1811. One of the earliest settlers in what became Clark County, Jacob Barkman owned a variety of businesses and worked as a planter. James Barkman was born in 1819 and followed his father into farming. The younger Barkman was successful and quickly accumulated wealth. In the 1860 census, the family of James Barkman included his wife, Harriet; four daughters; and one son. Barkman also owned twenty-eight slaves. Eventually, James and Harriet had another daughter, along with another son, Walter Eugene, who was born in the house and lived in it until his death in 1959.

James Barkman began construction of the home on the northwestern side of Arkadelphia around 1860. The foundation of the home and the five chimneys are constructed of stuccoed brick. The house consists of a center hall with rooms on either side, with two wings at the rear. The first floor has four rooms along the central hall, with two additional rooms in the south rear wing. The other wing contains modern facilities. With a hip roof and a chimney at each end, the building has a two-story façade across its front.

The staircase in the house is rear-facing, and both Greek and Gothic details are visible throughout the building. The inclusion of both types of details makes the home an unusual transitional design that bridges the shift from antebellum to Victorian architecture. Many of the original windows are still in place.

After serving as a family home for more than a century, the property was sold to what was then Henderson State Teachers College in 1968 for $65,000. The college used the building as a sorority meeting house, among other purposes. It then became home to the Office of Development and Alumni Services. The Barkman House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 30, 1974. Archeological excavations were conducted at the house in 1990 and 1993. The materials recovered in these excavations are held by Henderson State University.

For additional information:
Baxter, Ed. “James E. M. Barkman House.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/CL0002.nr.pdf (accessed October 20, 2020).

Richter, Wendy, ed. Clark County, Arkansas: Past and Present. Arkadelphia, AR: Clark County Historical Association, 1992.

David Sesser
Henderson State University


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