McRae Jail

The McRae Jail, located in a field in McRae (White County), is a one-story, reinforced concrete structure built in 1934. The McRae Jail was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 20, 1992.

The small railroad town of McRae, with its local economy dependent on the timber and strawberry industries, was apparently in need of a jail when President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated his Depression-era New Deal agencies. While the National Register nomination states that the jail was constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), it also says the McRae Jail was built in August 1934. The WPA would not operate in Arkansas until July 1935, however, and the jail is not included in a comprehensive list of Public Works Administration (PWA) projects in 1934, so it is possible the jail was funded through another of Roosevelt’s “alphabet agencies.”

The McRae Jail is a single-story, one-room structure built of reinforced cast concrete. It features a steel door with a small barred window on its front façade and small barred windows on two of its sides. Of the three New Deal–era jails built in White County—the others are at Beebe and Russell—the McRae Jail is the best preserved. It is no longer in use in the twenty-first century.

For additional information:
Federal Works Agency Public Works Administration. “List of all Allotted Non-Federal Projects, All Programs, By State and Docket, as of May 30, 1942.” On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas.

Hope, Holly. “An Ambition to be Preferred: New Deal Recovery Efforts and Architecture in Arkansas, 1933–1943.” Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 2006. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed May 25, 2020).

“McRae Jail.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/WH1719.nr.pdf (accessed May 25, 2020).

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System

Last Updated: 05/25/2022