Montgomery County Courthouse

The Montgomery County Courthouse is located on Highway 270 in Mount Ida (Montgomery County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the two-story building as architecturally and historically significant for its local standing in Montgomery County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 27, 1976.

The courthouse’s style is often described as Arkansas Adamesque. Designed by Clyde Ferrel and built in 1923, the Montgomery County Courthouse is constructed of random-patterned native stone. The structure’s restrained Classical elements are reminiscent of courthouses across Arkansas, including pilasters and a stone arch over the principal entrance. The ceiling of the courtroom is made of pressed tin that has been painted white.

As county demands grew, Montgomery County built an additional one-story building in 1975 as a courthouse annex. D. M. Lewis and Associates designed the building. It connects to the courthouse and houses many of the county’s operations, including the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Attempts were made to match the stone of the old building on some portions. The roofs are also identical. However, as the one-story building is of a contemporary design and has brick that is starkly different from the native stone, it distracts from the main courthouse.

In 1998, several people sued Montgomery County, stating that the second-floor courtroom was not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The quorum court met on November 23, 1998, to discuss installing an elevator but ultimately determined that installation costs were too high. It was decided that a nearby firehouse would be remodeled to be used as a courtroom. (The second-floor courtroom was repurposed for storage.) The quorum court held its first meeting in the new ground-level courtroom on February 8, 1999.

Activities on the courthouse square provide entertainment to Montgomery County residents. In 2000, some Mount Ida residents started the Montgomery County Front Porch to showcase local musicians and others from around the state. A wooden stage, commonly known as the Front Porch Stage, stands on the outer edge of the square, where concertgoers sit on the lawn and listen to music. Performances are free to the public, and music includes bluegrass, country and gospel. A concession stand, called the Back Porch Kitchen, serves refreshments. A sound system was donated by the Florida Power & Light Company following the community’s warm reception to power crews working on downed lines in the area during an ice storm in December 2000.

Two war memorials are located on the courthouse site. The first is dedicated to the 382 Confederate veterans from Montgomery County who served in three companies. The words “Lest We Forget” are inscribed in the stone marker. The second is dedicated to veterans who served and died from World War I to the Vietnam War; it was sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

For additional information:
Gill, John Purifoy, and Marjem Jackson Gill. On the Courthouse Square in Arkansas. N.p.: 1980.

“Montgomery County Courthouse.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/MN0019.nr.pdf (accessed February 20, 2016).

Montgomery County Front Porch Stage. http://frontporchstage.org/ (accessed February 20, 2016).

Jared Craig
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program

Last Updated: 09/27/2016