Entries - Entry Category: Arts - Starting with M

Madison County Courthouse

The Madison County Courthouse, built in 1939, is located at 1 Main Street in downtown Huntsville (Madison County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the three-story building as architecturally and historically significant as a visible result of the New Deal and as an example of Art Deco architecture in Madison County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 9, 1992. The 1905 Madison County Courthouse sustained roof damage in the 1930s that totaled $600. This, along with the fact that the building was no longer adequate to house county affairs, prompted administrators to seek a new courthouse. At that time, the Great Depression had devastated local government budgets, leaving no money for a public works …

Magnolia Manor

Magnolia Manor is a historic home located in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Constructed by John B. McDaniel between 1854 and 1857, the house contains both Greek Revival and Italianate design elements. When the house was constructed, it was several miles from Arkadelphia, but the city grew to encompass the home. The name of the home comes from the massive magnolia tree in the yard that was planted by McDaniel shortly after the home was constructed. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 27, 1972. John B. McDaniel was born on May 5, 1811, in Marlboro County, South Carolina. He married Mary Ann Thomas on June 14, 1836, and the couple eventually had five children. McDaniel …

Malco Theatre (Hot Springs)

The Malco Theatre, located at 817 Central Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County), was built on a site that has housed vaudeville shows, silent movies, modern films, and specialty productions. The Malco, which was frequented by Bill Clinton as a boy, has played host to the prestigious Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute (HSDFI). The Art Deco building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 2010. The Malco is currently home to the Maxwell Blade Theatre of Magic & Comedy. The economy of Hot Springs depended on lodging, dining, and entertainment to support its burgeoning tourism industry. In the late 1800s, Hot Springs attracted visitors from around the country to “take the waters.” After their therapeutic …

Malvern Commercial Historic District

The Malvern Commercial Historic District contains twenty-six contributing properties that represent the historic commercial area of Malvern (Hot Spring County). With structures dating from the 1890s to the 1920s, the district is notable for the high percentage of contributing buildings within its boundaries. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 28, 2015. At the time of the nomination, twenty-six contributing buildings and eight non-contributing buildings were present in the district. Included in the boundaries of the district is the separately listed Bank of Malvern building. The boundaries of the district are South Main Street between East First Street and East Fifth Street, also including the Malvern City Hall on Locust Street. The area included …

Malvern Rosenwald School

The Malvern Rosenwald School was constructed in 1929 with support from the Julius Rosenwald Fund. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 28, 2005. After serving as a school for many years, the building was used for various community programs. The Julius Rosenwald Fund offered financial support to projects to construct buildings for the education of African Americans across the South. State records indicate that the fund aided in the building of a total of 389 school buildings (schools, shops, and teachers’ homes) in forty-five counties in Arkansas. (A total of 4,977 schools, 217 teachers’ homes, and 163 shop buildings were built in fifteen states across the South with the assistance of more than $4.3 …

Mangrum, Jim Dandy

James Leslie “Jim Dandy” Mangrum is the flamboyant frontman for the southern rock group Black Oak Arkansas, which reached its height of fame in the 1970s, charting ten albums and a hit single. According to author Ron Hall, “Jim Mangrum claims to be the first long-haired rock ’n’ roller in Arkansas, and he may well have been.” His often raunchy onstage antics and froggy, raspy voice have been cited as an influence on rock stars such as David Lee Roth and Axl Rose. After health problems and many incarnations of the band, Mangrum continues to record and perform with a group called Jim Dandy’s Black Oak Arkansas. James Leslie Mangrum was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan, on March 30, 1948, …

Mann, George Richard

George Richard Mann, an architect educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was hired to design the Arkansas Capitol in 1899. He moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) and developed a highly respected practice, taking on projects that included many of the largest and most significant buildings constructed in Arkansas in the first thirty years of the twentieth century. When he died in 1939, Mann was considered by some the “dean of Arkansas architects.” George Mann was born in Syracuse, Indiana, on July 2, 1856. He was the son of Richard F. and Elizabeth Defreese Mann. His father was in the milling business but was killed as a soldier in the Civil War. When not in school, Mann worked …

Manuel, Dean

Dean Manuel played piano for several noteworthy bands of the mid-twentieth century, on the West Coast and in Nashville, Tennessee. Most notably, he played with Jim Reeves and the Blue Boys. Manuel died in a plane crash with Jim Reeves after leaving Independence County, where he had been helping Reeves with a land purchase. Dockie Dean Manuel was born in Cleveland (Conway County), where his family was working, on January 1, 1934. His parents were Dockie Dickson “Doffie” Manuel, who was a noted fiddle player, and Josephine Clementine (Josie) Burks; he was the youngest of four children and grew up in Jamestown (Independence County). Dean Manuel learned piano on his own at an early age and devoted much of his …

Mapes, Doris Genevieve Williamson

Doris Genevieve Williamson Mapes became one of Arkansas’s leading mid-twentieth-century artists. Adept in a variety of paint media, she was best known as a watercolorist who used bold, bright colors with strong patterns and abstract designs. Mapes’s style was described as imaginative realism. Memphis’s Commercial Appeal art critic Guy Northrop wrote that Mapes had a loose and airy flair. “There is a freshness to her world,” Northrop said, “and an expression of joy.” Doris Williamson was born on June 25, 1920, in Russellville (Pope County), the only child of Floyd Henry Williamson, who was a farmer, and Ruby Harvill Williamson. Her interest in art began at an early age with her father’s regular purchase of the Denver Post at the local …

Marion County Courthouse

The Marion County Courthouse is located in downtown Yellville (Marion County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the two-story building as architecturally and historically significant as an example of a Queen Anne-style building with Art Deco influences. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 19, 1994. Even with all its contributions to Arkansas history, Marion County has been unlucky in keeping a courthouse. Since the Civil War, four courthouses have burned down. Union soldiers burned the first one, and additional courthouses burned down in 1887, 1899, and 1943. The fourth courthouse, set afire by an arsonist in 1943, had stood as an impressive representation of the Queen Anne and Romanesque styles. Law enforcement determined that …

Marlsgate and the Dortch Plantation

Marlsgate sits at the center of the Dortch plantation, located near Scott (Pulaski and Lonoke counties). Marlsgate occupies the site of an earlier plantation house and faces Bearskin Lake, one of the many small lakes formed by the changing course of the nearby Arkansas River. Marlsgate was designed by noted Arkansas architect Charles L. Thompson and was completed in 1904. Together, the house and outbuildings represent plantation life in the mid-South during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While serving as the primary residence for three generations of the Dortch family, Marlsgate was also the headquarters for farming operations of the Dortch plantation. Under the stewardship of William Dortch, approximately 100 tenant families lived on the Dortch plantation. By the …

Marquette Hotel

aka: Riviera Hotel
The Marquette Hotel is located at 719 Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County), near the Hot Springs Convention Center. The building was constructed in the Chicago School style of architecture by the prominent Arkansas firm of Thompson, Sanders and Ginocchio. The Marquette Hotel thrived in conjunction with Hot Springs’ greatest period of popularity as a resort destination in the early 1930s through the late 1940s. On October 8, 1976, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places under the name Riviera Hotel. The five-story Marquette Hotel was built on the site of a previous Marquette Hotel (which had been constructed in 1901 as the Navarre Hotel, renamed the Marquette Hotel in 1910, and expanded in …

Marshall House (Little Rock)

The Marshall House is located on 2009 South Arch Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County). It was built in 1908 for Joseph C. Marshall, a lawyer and the secretary of the Little Rock and Hot Springs Electric Railroad Co. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 due to its architectural significance, having been designed by notable Arkansas architect Charles L. Thompson. The wood-frame house has two stories. The exterior of the 4,000-square-foot home has French doors on either side of the main entryway. Each French door has sidelights, is lined with dentil molding, and is topped with arched fanlights. The Doric-style pillars and hip roof add character to the home. These are typical characteristics …

Marshall, Fred Calvin

Fred Calvin Marshall was a jazz musician, inventor, sculptor, and educator best known as the bassist in the Vince Guaraldi Trio, which recorded the soundtrack for the Charlie Brown Christmas television special. He began his musical career in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the 1950s, later moving to Kansas City, Missouri, and California, where he became active in the thriving San Francisco musical scene in the 1960s. Fred Marshall was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on October 4, 1938, to Calvin Abel Marshall and Helen Howard Marshall, although he was raised in Little Rock. His mother was an artist and an art teacher at Arkansas Polytechnic College (now Arkansas Tech University) in Russellville (Pope County). His mother’s artistic creativity was an inspiration for …

Martin, Roberta Evelyn

aka: Roberta Evelyn Winston Martin Austin
Roberta Evelyn Winston Martin Austin was one of the most significant figures during gospel music’s golden age (1945–1960). A performer and publisher, she reached iconic status in Chicago, Illinois, where she influenced numerous artists (such as Alex Bradford, James Cleveland, and Albertina Walker) and had an impact on an entire industry with her innovation and business acumen. Roberta Evelyn Winston was born in Helena (Phillips County) on February 12, 1907, one of six children of William and Anna Winston, proprietors of a general store. She began studying piano at age six. Her family relocated to Cairo, Illinois, before she was ten, after arriving in Chicago in 1917, Winston played for various church functions, working with Thomas A. Dorsey, the “Father …

Maxie Theatre

The Maxie Theatre is located in Trumann (Poinsett County). When it opened in August 1947, it was considered to be one of the most modern theaters in the area. The Maxie is a prime example of Art Deco–style architecture in the Trumann area. The theater also represents one of the only single-screen movie theaters in the northeastern Arkansas area that is still operational. The theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 7, 2011. Local entrepreneur Zell Jaynes served three and a half years in the U.S. Army during World War II. Zell and his brother Lonnie ran and operated several businesses in the Trumann area, including the Allis-Chalmers tractor dealership, a taxi service, and a …

Maxwell, Paul E.

Paul E. Maxwell was a modern artist and sculptor who developed a technique for using stencils to create thickly textured and layered surfaces, as well as objects he patented as “stencil casting” but that later became known as “Maxwell Pochoir.” He was also known for creating the “Max Wall” in the West Atrium of the Dallas Apparel Mart; though demolished in 2006, it can be seen as a backdrop in the science-fiction movie Logan’s Run. His work is highly abstract and often consists of some kind of grid—a form that is non-hierarchical and illustrates a major theme of his work. Paul Maxwell was born in Frost Prairie (Ashley County) on September 17, 1925, to the farm family of Willie F. …

McBeth, William Francis

William Francis McBeth was a world-renowned composer and conductor. He was the Trustees’ Distinguished University Professor and resident composer at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark County), where he served as chairman of the Department of Music Theory and Composition. The governor appointed him composer laureate of Arkansas in 1975. McBeth’s compositions include works for all media, but was influential in the development of the literature for wind symphony. Francis McBeth was born on March 9, 1933, in Ropesville, Texas, to Joseph Phinis McBeth, a Baptist minister, and Lillie May Carpenter McBeth. He spent his youth in western Texas, where he began his musical training at an early age, studying piano with his mother and taking up the trumpet in …

McCollum-Chidester House Museum

The McCollum-Chidester House in Camden (Ouachita County) was built in 1847 by Peter McCollum, a North Carolinian who came to Arkansas and acquired the property on a land-grant basis. It is today a museum maintained by the Ouachita County Historical Society. McCollum purchased the building materials in New Orleans, Louisiana, and had them shipped upriver to Camden by steamboat. It was the first planed lumber house in the area of Ouachita County and possibly in southern Arkansas. It boasted the first plastered walls, carpeting, and wallpaper. John Chidester, an enterprising stagecoach owner and mail contractor, purchased the home for $10,000 in gold and moved his family to Camden in 1858. Chidester wanted to expand his growing stage line farther west, using Camden …

McCoy, Rose Marie

Rose Marie Hinton McCoy broke into the white, male-dominated music business in the early 1950s to become a highly sought-after songwriter whose career lasted over six decades. More than 360 artists have recorded her tunes, including Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, and Sarah Vaughan. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame in 2018. Marie Hinton was born in Oneida (Phillips County) on April 19, 1922, to Levi Hinton and Celetia Brazil Hinton. She and her older brother and sister attended the area’s two-room elementary school, went to church regularly, and worked on the forty-acre farm their parents rented. Though Oneida was located in the Mississippi Delta, often referred …

McCracklin, Jimmy

aka: James David Walker
Jimmy McCracklin was a renowned blues musician, singer, music industry entrepreneur, and songwriter. His hundreds of songwriting credits include his own recording of “The Walk,” which was a Top 10 hit for him in 1958, and “Tramp,” which was a Top 5 rhythm and blues (R&B) hit twice in 1967, first for Lowell Fulson and then as a duet by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas. McCracklin steadfastly claimed to have composed, uncredited, his friend B. B. King’s blues standard “The Thrill Is Gone,” although that claim remains contested. McCracklin is characterized as having played West Coast blues, a style associated mainly with African-American musicians who, like McCracklin, migrated to the San Francisco Bay Area of California during the 1940s. However, …

McDaniel, Irven Granger

Irven Granger McDaniel was a World War II bomber pilot and prisoner of war (POW) who, after returning home, joined his father’s architecture firm and later formed his own, designing a number of noteworthy buildings in Hot Springs (Garland County). Irven Granger McDaniel was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 24, 1923, one of four children of architect Irven Donald McDaniel and Camille Lewis McDaniel. McDaniel’s father had established a practice in Hot Springs by 1930, and McDaniel was a student at Hot Springs High School and taking flying lessons by the time he was seventeen years old. As Europe became embroiled in World War II, McDaniel went to Canada and enlisted in the Royal Air Force on July 4, …

McDonald, Thomas Newton (Tom)

Photographer Thomas Newton McDonald, a resident of Jonesboro (Craighead County), accumulated many honors in his lifetime, including the United Nations award for service to humanity, Gerard Bakker Award for teaching, and National Award for Service from both the Arkansas Professional Photographers and Southwestern Professional Photographers. His primary work focused on portrait photography, but he also took scenic and artistic photographs. In 1996, McDonald wrote The Business of Portrait Photography: A Professional’s Guide to Marketing and Managing a Successful Studio, with Profiles of 30 Top Portrait Photographers. The book, published by Amphoto Books of New York, was later published in a second edition and translated into Mandarin for publication in China. Born in Lake City (Craighead County) on July 2, 1933, …

McFerrin, Robert, Sr.

Robert McFerrin Sr. was an African-American baritone opera and concert singer who became the first black male to appear in an opera at the Metropolitan Opera house in New York City, his debut following by less than three weeks the well-publicized breaking of the color barrier by contralto Marian Anderson. However, McFerrin’s career at the Met was brief, being limited to ten performances in three seasons over three years. Although he sang in European opera houses and performed concerts extensively, he failed to attain major prominence. He is best remembered as the father of singer and conductor Bobby McFerrin, with whom he sometimes performed. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1995. Robert McFerrin was born on March …

McKissic, James Henry (Jimmy)

Jimmy McKissic was a world-renowned pianist from Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) who spent much of his life in France but performed throughout the world, including more than two dozen events at Carnegie Hall in New York. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994. James Henry McKissic was born on March 16, 1940, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Reverend James E. McKissic and Rosa Daniels McKissic; he had five brothers and five sisters, including one sister who was adopted. Growing up in Pine Bluff, McKissic was playing the piano by the age of three. He played in his father’s church and for other local congregations as a youth; his mother taught him until he …

McMath, Betty Dortch Russell

aka: Betty Dortch Russell
aka: Betty Russell
Betty Dortch Russell McMath became Arkansas’s most prominent portrait artist during the second half of the twentieth century. Her commissions included governors, judges, literary figures, and numerous business, civic, and social leaders. Beyond portraiture, her paintings seized the everyday moments of small-town life in Arkansas and chronicled its plantation culture. She produced portraits of five Arkansas governors, including Sid McMath, who was her second husband. Betty Ruth Dortch was born on July 14, 1920, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the daughter of Steele Dortch and Mabel Wittenberg Dortch. She had one sister, Judith. The family lived on 1,200 acres near Scott (Pulaski and Lonoke counties) in a home her father built. The house was situated on Bearskin Lake about one …

Medical Arts Building

The sixteen-story Medical Arts Building at 236 Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs (Garland County) was the tallest building in Arkansas from its completion in 1930 until 1960, when the Tower Building was completed in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County). (The tallest building in Arkansas currently is the forty-story Metropolitan Tower in Little Rock, which was built in 1986.) The upper floors of the Medical Arts Building are now vacant. The Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas (HPAA) listed it in 2012 as one of the state’s most endangered places. The Medical Arts Building was constructed by general contractor G. C. Gordon Walker with work beginning on December 1, 1929. Investors from Little Rock and New Orleans, Louisiana, purchased the site, …

Melody Boys Quartet

The Melody Boys Quartet was a Southern gospel music group based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Melody Boys Quartet officially disbanded on December 31, 2012, at the end of the group’s “Exit 63” tour, celebrating sixty-three years together. The group had its origins in the late 1930s when Herschel Foshee, aided by Joe Roper, created the Stamps-Baxter Quartet. The group was named after the music publishing company founded by V. O. Stamps and J. R. Baxter in 1926; the publisher was established in Texas but later opened an office in Pangburn (White County). The quartet’s original purpose was to sing and record the company’s publications exactly as printed and thus aid in selling Stamps-Baxter songbooks to interested musical groups …

Meyer, Rhena Salome Miller

aka: Goat Woman of Smackover
Rhena Salome Miller Meyer—better known as “the Goat Woman”—lived in Smackover (Union County) for over fifty years. Her sometimes reclusive nature, numerous pet goats, and considerable musical talents as a “one-woman band” all contributed to her folk-figure status in the region. Rhena (sometimes spelled Rhene) Miller was born in Orwin, Pennsylvania, on July 26, 1905. Her father, John R. Miller, was a Quaker who worked on a dairy farm and had a traveling medicine show that promoted the Seven Sisters Hair Tonic. He is said to have used young Rhena as a model in advertising the hair-growth tonic; however, as with much of her life story, no evidence has been found for this. Her mother, Katie Kessler, was an opera …

Mickel, Lillian Estes Eichenberger

Lillian Estes Eichenberger Mickel pioneered women’s roles in multiple fields. She served as a professional photographer, founded a nursing home, established a unique facility for handicapped children, was an accomplished portrait painter, and served as Johnson County’s historian. Lillian Eichenberger was born in Clarksville (Johnson County) on June 14, 1909, to Lafayette Eichenberger and Martha Louisa Black Eichenberger. She had seven siblings. Her father, a house painter, died in 1912. Her mother was an extremely talented seamstress. At the age of twelve, Eichenberger went to work in M. E. Anderson’s photography studio in order to give financial help to her widowed mother. She learned the photography business, becoming the first woman photographer in the state to make and distribute colored …

Mid-Southern Watercolorists

Mid-Southern Watercolorists (MSW) was founded and incorporated in 1970 as a nonprofit organization by five artists: Doris Williamson Mapes, Bruce R. Anderson, Josephine Graham, Edwin C. Brewer, and Catherine Tharp Altvater. The purpose of MSW, which has its headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is to elevate the stature of watercolor and educate the public about the significance of watercolor as an important creative, permanent painting medium; to promote the highest aesthetic standards; and to further the interest of painters in watercolor by its programs and competitive exhibits. At the group’s first organizational meeting, nearly forty people, responding to a newspaper advertisement, met in the Sears Community Room at University Mall in Little Rock. MSW’s articles of incorporation and by-laws, …

Mikel, Elmer Wayne

Elmer Wayne Mikel was a bootlegger during Prohibition and later became a self-published author who wrote books and essays about his criminal life and his experiences at the notorious Tucker State Prison Farm (now the Tucker Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction) in Jefferson County in the 1930s. Mikel was also a songwriter who wrote about Arkansas subjects, including the deadly Greenwood (Sebastian County) tornado of 1968. Elmer Mikel was born on October 8, 1905, in Jenny Lind (Sebastian County), one of ten children of George Elmer Mikel and Amanda Featherston Mikel. George Mikel, a Missouri native, was active in the United Mine Workers of America and ran as a socialist candidate for governor of Arkansas in 1912. Elmer Mikel attended high school but …

Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel

aka: Cooper Chapel
The Mildred B. Cooper Memorial Chapel, commonly called the Cooper Chapel, is a non-denominational chapel in Bella Vista (Benton County) designed by architects E. Fay Jones, who also designed Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs (Carroll County), and Maurice Jennings, Jones’s business partner for twenty-five years. John Cooper Sr. built three retirement/recreation villages in Arkansas from the 1950s to the 1970s, including Bella Vista Village in northwestern Arkansas, which he opened in 1965. His wife, Mildred Borum Cooper, was his partner throughout these and other ventures. She, too, was successful in business, serving as postmistress in West Memphis (Crittenden County) and Cherokee Village (Sharp and Fulton counties) and owning gift shops in Cherokee Village and Bella Vista. She was also active …

Miller County Courthouse

The Miller County Courthouse, dedicated in 1939, is located at 400 Laurel Street in downtown Texarkana (Miller County) in an area with a number of residences. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the four-story building as architecturally and historically significant for its standing as a visible result of the New Deal and as an impressive example of Art Deco architecture in Miller County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 29, 1998. On September 19, 1938, Miller County determined that the courthouse built in 1888 was no longer capable of housing county business. The county needed a new, modern courthouse, as Texarkana had grown substantially since the late nineteenth century. In addition, the U.S. District …

Miller, David

David Freeland Miller, who maintains a broadcasting studio in his Little Rock (Pulaski County) home, is producer and host of Swingin’ Down the Lane, a one-hour program that is broadcast weekly on more than forty National Public Radio (NPR) affiliates and independent commercial stations. The program is also heard on stations in Perth, Australia, and Hamburg, Germany. David Miller was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, on April 6, 1928, the third of four children of Alan and Margaret Miller. He received his secondary education at the Pingry School in Elizabeth. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Princeton University and master’s and PhD degrees, also in psychology, from the University of Michigan. While still pursuing his doctorate, Miller was …

Miller, Harry Lewis

Harry Lewis Miller was a photographer active in Arkansas at the turn of the twentieth century. His White River landscapes and scenes of daily life throughout the north-central region of the state form an important aesthetic and social history legacy. While some of Miller’s images were familiar, they were generally unattributed until staff at the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Old Independence Regional Museum in Batesville (Independence County) researched his work and mounted exhibits in 1998 and 2003, respectively. The oldest of nine children, Harry Miller was born on April 1, 1870, in Dodge County, Minnesota, to Anton and Mary (Lewis) Miller, who were farmers. By 1880, they had moved their growing family to North Dakota, …

Miller, Nick

The artistry of stone carver Nick Miller is found in cemeteries throughout northwest Arkansas. The tombstones he made—crisp and legible well over a century later—employ the mourning symbols of his time: clasping hands, weeping willows, lambs, doves. Yet Miller’s bas-relief motifs and deeply incised lettering exhibit a level of skill and detail not generally found among contemporary carvers. All that is known about Nick Miller’s origins is that he was born in Germany. He never married, had no relatives in America, and is listed on the 1880 census as an “old batch” at age thirty-six. In addition to his distinctive carvings, Miller’s tablet-style tombstones are recognizable by his “Nick Miller,” “N. Miller,” or “N. M.” signature at the base. He …

Miller, Richard “Curly”

Richard “Curly” Miller was a renowned musician who lived in Kingston (Madison County). He and his wife, Carole Anne Rose, co-founded the band The Old 78’s. He was also a noted organic farmer, establishing Sweden Creek Farm with Rose in the deep woods of the Ozark Mountains. Richard Miller was born on August 10, 1954, to John C. Miller and Roberta Beck Miller in Baltimore, Maryland, although he was raised in Penfield, New York. He played classical violin as a child, rock-and-roll guitar as a teenager, and three-finger Leo Kottke–style guitar during his one semester at the State University of New York at Potsdam. Guitarists Doc Watson and Norman Blake inspired him to learn flat-picking guitar, while Frankie Gavin and …

Minor, James Calvin (Jim)

James Calvin (Jim) Minor was an American country singer/songwriter, producer, publisher, disc jockey, and record label owner. He recorded country music for labels including Mercury and United Artists and managed the careers of other significant recording artists. Minor recorded under the name Jimmy Minor until 1960, when he recorded for United Artists as Jim Minor. Jim Minor was born on January 20, 1931, in DeValls Bluff (Prairie County). His mother, Margaret Meyer Minor, was a niece of noted photographer Mike Disfarmer. He learned to play the guitar and sing at an early age. When he was a teenager, he won a talent contest at what is now the Arkansas State Fair and Livestock Show; the prize was to go to …

Minstrel Shows

Popular during the nineteenth century, the minstrel show was one of the earliest forms of theatrical entertainment in the United States. The elements of the genre were developed during the 1820s and 1830s, and the first show fully dedicated to minstrelsy was staged in 1843 by the Virginia Minstrels. Early performances were given by white performers who used burnt cork to blacken their faces in order to represent different black characters. The white performers also drew heavily on the music produced by African Americans, and in particular plantation slaves in the South. The banjo, an instrument with origins in West Africa, and the “bones”—pairs of bones or wood that were struck against one another—quickly became part of the standard minstrel …

Miss Laura’s Social Club

The former Miss Laura’s Social Club, a house of prostitution, serves as a unique visitor center for Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and is a reminder of the town’s rich history. Located at 123 First Street, it is the only former bordello in Arkansas listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On the border between what was the known United States and Indian Territory, Fort Smith was one of the historic Old West towns. Being a border town invited the business of prostitution into the town, and several bordellos were established around the turn of the century. Built in 1896 as the Riverfront Commercial Hotel, the house at 123 First Street was bought by Laura Ziegler in 1898. Zeigler borrowed …

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 …

Mississippi County Courthouse, Osceola District

The Mississippi County Courthouse serving as the seat of justice for the southern part of Mississippi County is the central feature of a courthouse square bordered by Hale, Walnut, Johnson, and Poplar streets in downtown Osceola (Mississippi County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the three-story building as architecturally and historically significant as a prime example of the Classical style in Mississippi County. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 13, 1978. The Mississippi County Courthouse—Chickasawba District, located in the other county seat in Blytheville and opened in 1921, serves the northern part of the county. As Osceola experienced an economic boom due to railroad traffic, lumber, and agriculture production around the beginning of the …

Missouri and North Arkansas Depot (Leslie)

The Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad (M&NA) depot in Leslie (Searcy County) is a passenger and freight train station that was constructed circa 1925 in the Plain Traditional style. The single-story stone masonry structure, located at the southwest end of Walnut Street, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 11, 1992. The town of Leslie, situated in the northern Arkansas Ozark Mountains on a tributary of the Middle Fork of the Little Red River, was an isolated and remote community during much of the nineteenth century. In 1902, its population was about fifty people. However, in 1903, the potential of Leslie’s natural resources convinced the M&NA to extend its line from Harrison (Boone County) to the …

Missouri Pacific Depot (Arkadelphia)

The Missouri Pacific Depot located in Arkadelphia (Clark County) is an active train station that was constructed in the Mediterranean style in 1917. Added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 11, 1992, it is located on South Fifth Street. The first settlers arrived in the Arkadelphia area, located along the Ouachita River, around 1808, and it was incorporated in 1857. In 1873, river transportation was replaced by rail when the Cairo and Fulton connected the city with Little Rock (Pulaski County). This line was acquired by the Missouri Pacific in 1917, and the company constructed a number of new depots to serve communities along the tracks, including in Gurdon (Clark County). The Arkadelphia depot was constructed south …

Missouri Pacific Depot (Malvern)

The Missouri Pacific Depot is an operating train depot located at 200 East First Street in Malvern (Hot Spring County). The Mediterranean-style building was constructed around 1917 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 11, 1992. By 2018, it was serving as a depot for Amtrak’s Texas Eagle. Malvern was created as a stop for the Cairo and Fulton Railroad in 1873. The settlement quickly grew and incorporated in 1876 and, two years later, became the county seat, replacing nearby Rockport (Hot Spring County). The railroad played an important role in the growth of the city, as the two major products from the area—brick and timber—were shipped across the country from the station. A second …

Monroe County Courthouse

The Monroe County Courthouse is located at 123 Madison Street in downtown Clarendon (Monroe County). The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the three-story building as architecturally and historically significant as one of Arkansas’s most prominent courthouses and its sole example of the Italian Renaissance Revival style in Monroe County. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 14, 1976. The Monroe County Courthouse stands on the same site as the previous four courthouses stood, including one that Union armies dissembled during the Civil War and another that burned down on New Year’s Day in 1895. Charles L. Thompson, a prolific architect from Little Rock (Pulaski County) who is credited for renowned structures across the state, designed …

Montana, Patsy

aka: Ruby Blevins
Patsy Montana was a pioneering female country music singer whose signature song, “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” was the first record by a female country artist to sell a million copies. Patsy Montana was born Ruby Blevins on October 30, 1908, near Hot Springs (Garland County). She was the eleventh child and only daughter of farmer Augustus Blevins and his wife, Victoria. By the 1920 census, the family was living in Hempstead County. Raised on church songs, fiddle music, and the music of country star Jimmie Rodgers, Blevins headed to Los Angeles with her brother and sister-in-law in 1930; hoping to catch the public’s eye, she changed the spelling of her first name to Rubye. She studied violin …

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 …

Monticello Post Office (Historic)

The 1937 Monticello Post Office in Monticello (Drew County) is a one-story, brick-masonry structure designed in a restrained interpretation of the Art Deco style of architecture and featuring a sculpture created through the U.S. Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture (later renamed the Section of Fine Arts), a Depression-era stimulus project that promoted public art. The post office was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 14, 1998. Construction began on the Monticello Post Office in early 1937, with the Advance Monticellonian reporting on January 28 that “work on the new post office began in earnest last Monday morning.” The blond-brick structure “will be of the same material and color as the [adjacent] Municipal Building, and …