Blytheville's Eaker air base, 9 other sites on historic list

Posted: February 2, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

This house at 1920 S. Main St. in Little Rock, built around 1905, is among 10 Arkansas properties that have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Ten Arkansas properties have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the country's official list of historically significant properties.

They include a Cold War military base in Blytheville, school buildings in Hot Springs and Highfill, a homestead near Salem, a grocery store in Washington County, a house in Little Rock, a poor-farm cemetery in Fort Smith and a monument to Union veterans of the Civil War in Benton County.

Four other properties that were nominated, including Johnny Cash's boyhood home in Mississippi County, are still under consideration and could be listed on the register later this month, said Mark Christ, a spokesman for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Commission.

Christ said the Arkansas program has a 98 percent success rate with its nominations because the sites go through a "rigorous internal determination of eligibility" before being nominated.

"The 10 newly listed properties really highlight the diverse historic resources we have in Arkansas," Christ said. "I think it's pretty cool that we are listing a Strategic Air Command nuclear bomber base, a poor-farm cemetery and a midcentury modern-style residence all at the same time."

The newly listed properties are:

• Blytheville Air Force Base Strategic Air Command Alert and Weapons Storage Area Historic District.

Most of the facility was built about 1959. The name was changed in 1988 to Eaker Air Force Base, and the base closed in 1992.

The Strategic Air Command's alert program "was able and ready to provide a counterattack within 15 minutes in the event of a Soviet initiated strike on the United States," according to the nomination.

• Grand Army of the Republic Monument at Gentry in Benton County, an 18-foot-tall monument raised by Union veterans in 1918.

"While Confederate monuments erected in the years following the Civil War can be found scattered across Arkansas, including around 30 that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Union monuments are much scarcer," according to the National Register nomination.

• Highfill School (No. 71) at Highfill in Benton County, a wood-frame vernacular educational structure built around 1911.

Also known as The Community Building, the Highfill School "continues to be used frequently for club and social events and maintains its charm to all those who live in the town," according to the National Register nomination. "This school building is one of the only known surviving structures related to the early history of the Highfill community as a whole and one of few surviving early school structures in Benton County."

• Green Valley Homestead near Salem in Fulton County, log buildings constructed between 1936 and 1943.

"The Green Valley Homestead is an excellent example of an intact rustic-style farmstead designed and built during the 1930s and 1940s in rural Fulton County," according to the National Register nomination. "The farmstead includes the main residence, a privy, a root cellar, a carriage house (garage and workshop), a stone chicken coop, and a large barn as well as several stone site features including a fire pit, retaining walls, and patios."

• House at 1920 S. Main St. in Little Rock, a folk Victorian-style cottage built around 1905.

A recent restoration allowed this house to be considered as a contributing structure to the South Main Street Residential Historic District and thus qualify for listing on the National Register.

"The recent restoration project renovated the property closer to its original condition by restoring the windows, porch supports and removing the exterior synthetic siding and restoring the original wooden horizontal siding underneath," according to the National Register nomination.

• Greenwood School at Hot Springs in Garland County, a 1930 art deco-style building.

"In 1950, Greenwood School was expanded through the addition of four classrooms, two at each end of the original school building in a newly constructed upper level atop the existing eastern and western bays, designed to match the Art Deco style of the original building," according to the National Register nomination. "Also, a new international-style combination gymnasium-auditorium-cafeteria was added to the eastern side of the original building."

• R.L. Leach Grocery Store at Dutch Mills in Washington County, a 1925-era traditional-style commercial building that also served as a post office.

"The R.L. Leach Grocery Store reflected the economic strategy employed by many postmasters at the time, further solidifying the importance of the building to the community," according to the National Register nomination.

• Elmwood Cemetery at Fort Smith, containing burials dating to 1891 from the Sebastian County Poor Farm.

"The poor farm system was an important part of the social fabric in several Arkansas counties during the late 19th and early 20th centuries," according to the National Register nomination.

• Fitzgerald Historic District at Fort Smith, with homes dating from 1905.

"Developed in the early-20th century, the neighborhood was home to middle- and working-class citizens who built modest homes in the folk vernacular, colonial revival, Tudor revival, and craftsman styles," the National Register nomination said. "Most lots in the neighborhood were developed between 1920 and 1930."

• Robert Wanslow House at Fort Smith, built in 1962 and reflecting the midcentury modern style of architecture.

"The design of the Robert Wanslow House reflects the increased relationship between the indoors and outdoors, as well as the issue of privacy in house design," according to the National Register nomination.

The state review board of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program meets three times a year and usually considers seven to 15 properties at each meeting.

Metro on 02/02/2018