Mississippi County Courthouse, Chickasawba District
The Mississippi County Courthouse serving as the seat of justice for the northern part of the county is located at 200 Walnut Street in downtown Blytheville (Mississippi County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the four-story building as architecturally and historically significant for its local standing in Mississippi County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 6, 1996.
After the city of Blytheville was incorporated in 1892, city leaders sought new economic stimulus in the form of transportation. Mississippi County was already an agricultural hub, with cotton as its main product. The Mississippi River, just eight miles away from Blytheville, provided farmers with fertile soil and natural flooding. Lumber was also a major industry when the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company set up shop in the new city. But to transport these goods, the city did not look to the river. It instead turned to the railroads being built through the area.
The local economy boomed as a result, and in 1901, Blytheville won its case to become a second county seat along with Osceola (Mississippi County). Its district was named Chickasawba in reference to the county’s Native American history. County officials tasked the architectural firm Seligman and Ellesvard of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) to design a new courthouse in 1919, and it drew plans for a stately Georgian-style building. The courthouse was dedicated in 1921.
The building’s exterior is made with sandstone on the first level and brown brick on the upper levels. Copper trim is incorporated into the building, along with pilasters at the façade. For much of the building’s history, awnings above the second floor windows were the most notable feature, but those were eventually removed.
Designers utilized white marble throughout the building, including the walls, floors, window trim, an interior balcony, and a staircase with matching balustrade. A law library is located on the second floor, with books stacked on bookcases rising nine shelves high. The courtroom is next door and is also ornate, with mahogany window trims and terra-cotta tile floors.
The courthouse grounds feature many war memorials, with stone monuments placed throughout the grounds. The first, a red boulder, is in memory of Confederate veterans and was erected by the Elliot Fletcher Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1934. The second is dedicated to veterans of World War I and World War II who resided in Mississippi County. The American Legion erected an eternal flame in front. The third and fourth memorials honor Korean War and Vietnam War veterans, respectively. There are also two historical markers on site, the first in memory of pioneers of Mississippi County, which was dedicated on November 11, 1937. The second is dedicated to all prisoners of war and those missing in action from Arkansas; it was dedicated in 1973.
For additional information:
Gill, John Purifoy, and Marjem Jackson Gill. On the Courthouse Square in Arkansas. N.p.: 1980.
“Mississippi County Courthouse—Chickasawba District.” 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/MS0056.nr.pdf (accessed November 16, 2020).
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
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