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Hempstead County Courthouse

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1939, McAninch and Anderson; 1994 addition, Wittenberg Delony and Davidson; 2012 addition. 400 S. Washington St.
  • (Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, A Division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, Mason Toms, photographer)

Of the several Art Deco courthouses in Arkansas, this five-story, reinforced concrete and tan brick edifice is one of the largest and most impressive. The upper half of the front facade is articulated by six wide brick piers that frame vertical banks of windows. At the tops of the windows, between the piers, are large cast-stone panels in a chevron design. The projecting entrance is surrounded by a striking cast-stone centerpiece consisting of panels of chevron motifs alternating with figurative panels depicting eight professions: construction, mining, medicine, justice, defense, electricity, farming, and brickmaking. A large spread-winged eagle is centered in the topmost panel flanked by diamond shapes overlaid with sunbursts. These sophisticated reliefs not only invite closer scrutiny but also provide abundant light-and-shadow effects on the building’s surface. A broad, central staircase dominates the little-altered lobby; its streamlined balustrade is especially striking—on each side one long swoop of brushed aluminum is attached to its base with simple circles. At the head of the stairs a large marble panel is inscribed with the names of those responsible for the building’s construction, from President Franklin Roosevelt to the county commissioners.

Hempstead is the only county in the state having three surviving buildings constructed as courthouses. The other two are located in Historic Washington State Park (HE4). The earliest one, constructed in 1836, served as the state capitol while Little Rock was occupied by federal troops during the Civil War; the second was constructed in 1874. The present courthouse in Hope was constructed when the fifth attempt to move the county seat from Washington to Hope finally succeeded in 1939. Hope was settled in 1852 and named after the daughter of a railroad commissioner.

Writing Credits

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


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Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors, "Hempstead County Courthouse", [Hope, Arkansas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Arkansas

Buildings of Arkansas, Cyrus A. Sutherland and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018, 187-187.

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