Lonoke County Courthouse
The Lonoke County Courthouse is located at 301 Center Street in downtown Lonoke (Lonoke County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the four-story building as architecturally and historically significant as an example of Classical architecture in Lonoke County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 8, 1982.
The present courthouse, constructed in 1928, is the third built in Lonoke County. The first, a frame structure, was built in 1873 and stood until 1881, when a fire destroyed it. The second was built in 1885 and stood until county administrators razed it after completion of the current courthouse on an adjacent site. Architect H. Ray Burks of Little Rock (Pulaski County) designed the new courthouse with the traditional imagery of Arkansas’s county courthouses in mind.
Burks included many Classical elements in the red brick building, mainly the massive Doric columns standing at the front portico. Other traits include Roman arches, multi-paned windows, fanlight transom doors, a paneled frieze, and an elevated principal entrance. The fourth floor housed the county jail, but the jail was moved in 1973.
The main hall is ornate, with brass light fixtures (some with tassels). Beams in the ceiling form an arch over the hall. Lonoke County also honors its past judges with photographs hanging on the walls, alongside photo portraits of the current governor and president of the United States.
The courtroom’s outstanding feature is the multi-colored stained-glass window beneath a plaster arch. It stands over the judge’s bench and provides natural lighting, as veneer paneling was installed over the windows. Six-panel wooden doors make up the entrances and include large brass plates. The doors are centered underneath hand-carved fan arches. Spectators of court proceedings take their seats in theater-style chairs made of wood and brass.
As in most counties, the courthouse is surrounded by green space with several monuments. A Civil War–era cannon and a marble statue of a Confederate soldier honor veterans of the Civil War; the T. C. Hindman chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy provided the funds for the statue. Two azalea and rose gardens are on site as well as two gazebos, which were provided by the Leroy Isbell Family of the Snake Island community. Also, there is a monument dedicated to Judge Bill Waggoner for his fifty-three years of public service to Lonoke County, as well as a memorial honoring veterans.
Two historical markers are also on site. One is dedicated to Senator Joseph T. Robinson, who represented Arkansas in the U.S. Senate and was the 1928 Democratic vice-presidential nominee. As the marker notes, Robinson was born in Lonoke County, just six miles away from the courthouse, and he returned to Lonoke for a citywide celebration of his nomination. The Arkansas History Commission (now called the Arkansas State Archives) provided the marker in 1936. The second marker notes local landmarks such as the Joseph T. Robinson Home and Eberts Field. It was installed for the U.S. bicentennial celebration in 1976.
For additional information:
Gill, John Purifoy, and Marjem Jackson Gill. On the Courthouse Square in Arkansas. N.p.: 1980.
“Lonoke County Courthouse.” 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/LN0025.nr.pdf (accessed November 16, 2020).
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
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