This classically styled courthouse replaced a three-story brick Italianate building of 1872, which itself had replaced a log building. Clarke, who was based in nearby Rogers, had already earned a professional reputation in Bentonville with his designs for the Benton County National Bank (BN5) and the Massey Hotel (BN6). The courthouse occupies the block on the east side of the town square and provides a formal closure to that side. For the building’s exterior, Clarke chose a buff brick and limestone combination instead of his more usual red brick with limestone. The central portion of the three-story building projects slightly from lower three-story wings and is preceded by a broad flight of stone steps that rise to an arcaded porch sheltering the main entrance. Above are large round-arched windows separated by pilasters and topped by an entablature and dentiled cornice. The wings have rectangular windows and conclude with bold projecting cornices. Inside, the lofty main courtroom once included a spectators’ balcony lining three walls, but now all but the front row is enclosed for law library space. The courtroom’s ceiling has patterned ivory-colored acoustical tiles created by Fayetteville-based artist Paul M. Heerwagen, who embellished many public buildings in Arkansas in the early twentieth century. In the mid-1980s a proposal to replace the courthouse with a new building on a different site was defeated. To gain much needed floor space, an overhead enclosed passage links the courthouse with a modern annex to the east.
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Benton County Courthouse
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