Arkansas’s first rice mill, the Stuttgart Rice Milling Company, was built in Stuttgart in 1907 on the site of the present-day Riceland Foods complex. The rice industry thrived until the rice market crashed in 1920, when rice sold for thirty cents a bushel instead of the expected three dollars. The farmers’ solution was to band together to market their crops, and they formed the Arkansas Rice Growers Cooperative Association in September 1921. After leasing properties to mill their rice in 1928, the association purchased the Stuttgart Rice Mill and expanded to Jonesboro. The farmers’ cooperative, now known as Riceland Foods, is headquartered here. This large building is typical of the robust architecture of the 1970s, with its emphasis on the weightiness and strength of walls and windows deeply inset and shaded. Like many corporate buildings of the time, this one is set in landscaped grounds. A terrace in front has plantings organized in a grid and is bordered by low-scaled bushes. The other three sides of the buildings are framed by parking areas.
The importance of rice production to Stuttgart (today, Arkansas is a leading producer of rice in the United States) is manifestly apparent on the north side of Stuttgart, where banks of silos, rice dryers, mills, and warehouses line the railroad tracks, including those belonging to Riceland Foods. This landscape of geometric forms in concrete and metal, loading docks, rail sidings, and shipping containers forms a dramatic industrial aesthetic.