Nevada County Courthouse

The Nevada County Courthouse is located in downtown Prescott (Nevada County). Constructed in 1964, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 24, 2018.

Nevada County was organized on March 20, 1871, from portions of Hempstead, Columbia, and Ouachita counties. The county court convened for the first time at Mount Moriah Methodist Church on May 8, 1871. No incorporated towns existed in the county. The following year, Rosston was named as the county seat by a governor-appointed commission, and in 1877, the voters of the county selected Prescott as the county seat. When the county seat moved to Prescott, a two-story building on East First Street served as the courthouse.

Three permanent purpose-built courthouses have served the county. The first was constructed in Prescott in 1884. It was razed in 1911 and replaced by a new structure the same year with a county investment of about $60,000. The condition of the 1911 courthouse deteriorated over the decades, and by the mid-1950s, the county began considering options to replace it. An effort to pass a bond issue to support the construction of a new courthouse failed in 1961. Over the next two years, both Prescott and Nevada County experienced significant growth and investment, leading to another vote in September 1963. This time, the bond issue was approved by the voters, and demolition of the 1911 courthouse began in January 1964. Construction of the new building on the same site was completed by October 31, and most of the county offices were occupied in early November. The building was dedicated on December 4, 1964.

The courthouse was designed by the Weaver and Hiegel firm of Little Rock (Pulaski County) and constructed by the E. W. Johnson Construction Company of Texarkana (Miller County). The flat-roofed building is designed in the New Formalism style and constructed from red brick with cast-stone accents. The courthouse sits on a continuous cast-concrete foundation. The structure faces northwest and measures just over 12,850 square feet. Located above the glass double doors is a transom topped with metal letters spelling “COURTHOUSE.” Sidelights flank the doors, and the front has five concrete steps leading to a porch topped with a high roof. The entrance also includes four cast-stone columns, with a pair on either side of the steps. Wings extend to either side of the front entrance and include double-hung vinyl-framed windows that have replaced the original metal-framed windows. The other sides of the building include multiple entrances and windows, all similar to those present on the front of the structure.

The interior of the building includes a single courtroom with a sixteen-foot-high ceiling, located in the central part of the structure. Hallways extend on either side of the courtroom, providing access to county offices. The interior of the building includes red and buff brick walls with wood paneling and doors. Northwest of the building is a tower containing a clock donated by the Bank of Prescott at the time of construction. It was installed shortly after the building opened. Two memorials to veterans of Nevada County are also located on the grounds of the courthouse. The clock tower is a contributing structure to the National Register listing, while the memorials are not.

The structure is the sole building on the block (with the exception of a small storage shed) and is surrounded by wide lawns with numerous trees. The courthouse is bordered by East 2nd, East 3rd, East Elm, and East Vine streets. It continues to serve as an active courthouse in the twenty-first century.

For additional information:
“Nevada County Courthouse.” National Register for Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/NE0035_nr.pdf (accessed July 30, 2019).

Nevada County Depot and Museum. http://www.depotmuseum.org/ (accessed July 30, 2019).

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated: 07/30/2019