The Wing School at 15312 Arkansas Highway 59 at Natural Dam (Crawford County) is a Craftsman-style, fieldstone-clad building constructed around 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era public works agency. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 23, 2023.
While the Natural Dam area held a school building depicted on a 1936 Arkansas State Highway Commission map, local residents sought and received funding for a new school building through the Works Progress Administration, one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal agencies. The new building, which became known as the Wing School, was built around 1940 and reflected the Craftsman style of architecture that was often used in WPA projects. The origin of the name Wing is unknown. However, some believe that it may mean that the school was associated with another school in the area, thus a “wing” of that school.
The new building was a one-story frame structure clad in a fieldstone veneer and lit by large banks of double-hung windows. It features a gable-on-hip roof, and the Craftsman style is exhibited through the exposed rafter tails and the use of natural stone on the exterior.
The Wing School served students in the Natural Dam area of Crawford County for about twenty years until it was consolidated with the school in Cedarville (Crawford County) around 1961. The U.S. Forest Service acquired the building at some point after that, and it began serving as a community building for Natural Dam.
According to the National Register registration form, “the Wing School was likely not only a significant part of northwestern Crawford County when it came to education, but it was also likely an important aspect of the community’s social life. As with churches, schools were often an important part of the community not just during the week, but on the weekends as well. Even today, the building is an important part of the community for hosting events such as baby showers and other special events, including reunions.”
For additional information:
Wilcox, Ralph. “Wing School.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at https://www.arkansasheritage.com/docs/default-source/ahpp-documents/cw0461-nr.pdf?sfvrsn=cb72e24d_0 (accessed September 12, 2023).
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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