Lockesburg High School Gymnasium

Located in Lockesburg (Sevier County), the Lockesburg High School Gymnasium is part of the campus of the town’s former high school. In 2014, it came under the ownership Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas and is used by the college for sporting events and other activities. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 18, 2018.

With the creation of Little River County in 1867, the Sevier County seat of Paraclifta (Sevier County) was no longer centrally located in the county. James, William, and Matthew Locke offered to donate 120 acres of land along with an additional sixty acres owned by Royal Appleton for the creation of a new county seat. The county approved the moving of the county seat in 1869, and a permanent courthouse opened in the community in 1871. Named Lockesburg, the community grew in importance but was bypassed by Kansas City, Pittsburg, and Gulf Railroad in 1897, with the line going through what is now De Queen (Sevier County).

Hesperian High School, a tuition-based institution, began operations in the community in 1893; it was replaced by a public school in the early twentieth century. Utilizing a red brick building constructed in 1912–1913, the school officially became Lockesburg High School in 1924. Smaller districts around Lockesburg consolidated with the district, increasing enrollment and leading to efforts to expand the facilities of the schools. By 1952, the entire district included the 1912 building, a 1929 elementary school, a small building called the teacherage, and a two-classroom building located in the nearby community of Provo (Sevier County).

In order to accommodate more students, the district constructed a single building that included space for a gymnasium, an auditorium, a cafeteria, two classrooms, and restrooms. Opening in time for the start of the 1952–53 school year, the building served the district for only a few months before burning to the ground on December 4, 1952.

The district was in debt due to the cost of the previous building, and a special election in March 1953 led to an increase in the local millage rate to fund the construction of a new gym. Bids were quickly accepted, and construction began almost immediately. The first event in the new gym, the senior play, was held on April 30, 1953.

The rectangular building is constructed from cinder blocks and rests on a concrete foundation. The main entrance is located on the north side of the building, and numerous windows are located on each side. The interior of the building includes a single basketball court running north to south with grandstands located on the east and west sides. A stage is located on the south side of the gym, and a small classroom is located on each side of the stage. A cafeteria was located at the south end of the building, and other features include locker rooms and tongue-and-groove wallboards.

Low enrollment led to the consolidation of the Lockesburg School District with the De Queen School District in 2010. The campus was abandoned until 2014, when the De Queen School Board deeded the property to Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas. The college began an extensive renovation project to restore the building to its original design. A 1985 addition was removed, and numerous windows were uncovered. The stage had been enclosed at some point to serve as a classroom, and the renovation project led to the removal of that wall to allow for the space to once again be used as a stage.

The facility is used by the Cossatot men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as for public programs and college events. It is an outstanding example of adaptive reuse of a historic structure in rural Arkansas.

For additional information:
“Community Facilities.” Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas. https://www.cccua.edu/community-workforce/community-facilities (accessed May 4, 2023).

“Lockesburg High School Gymnasium.” National Register for Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at https://www.arkansasheritage.com/docs/default-source/national-registry/sv0107_nr-pdf.pdf?sfvrsn=1d9fea7d_0  (accessed May 4, 2023).

“UAC Basketball.” Cossatot Community College of the University of Arkansas. https://www.cccua.edu/student-life/student-organizations/colts-basketball (accessed May 4, 2023).

David Sesser
Southeastern Louisiana University


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