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Old Home Accident Insurance Company Building

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1908, Charles L. Thompson. 300 N. Main St.

Modest commercial buildings sited on corners with recessed canted entrances, such as this building, were once common on turn-of-the-twentieth-century Main streets. Local entrepreneur Aloysius B. Banks commissioned Thompson to design the two-story brick commercial building. A robust granite column with an overscaled foliate capital set between two arches leads the eye upward to the corner tower crowned by an elongated dome. Brick pilasters with stone Ionic capitals frame the windows on the upper story, and a deep modillioned cornice provides continuity as the building wraps the corner. Two separate entrances in the unornamented section extending along 3rd Street provided access to the rental spaces customarily within these commercial buildings. A. B. Banks rose from obscurity as a rural school teacher to become one of Arkansas’s wealthiest men, with a controlling interest in some twenty banks. His business career began in Fordyce in 1891 with the founding of the Home Accident Insurance Company, followed a few years later by two more, which eventually were consolidated into the Associated Home Insurance Companies of Arkansas, operating in twenty-five states. The first headquarters was located here in this stylish, imposing building, one of the few on Main Street to have escaped regrettable alterations, if not outright demolition.

For a visitor arriving by train at the Cotton Belt Depot and proceeding north up the hilly Main Street, the tower of the Banks Building would have been prominently visible at the top of the incline. An almost identical tower crowned the Fordyce Bank and Trust (1904) opposite the Banks Building, of which Banks was president. This bank, also designed by Thompson and similar to the insurance headquarters, is now almost unrecognizable from a brutal 1960s remodeling, which included destruction of the picturesque tower.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors
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Citation

Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors, "Old Home Accident Insurance Company Building", [Fordyce, Arkansas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/AR-01-DA2.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Arkansas

Buildings of Arkansas, Cyrus A. Sutherland and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018, 201-202.

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