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Old Independence Regional Museum (Arkansas National Guard Building)

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1936, Pieter Blaauw; 1995, 2005 renovated, Charles Witsell for Witsell Evans Rasco. 380 S. 9th St.
  • (Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, A Division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, Ralph Wilcox, photographer)

This fine Ozark sandstone headquarters building for Company L, 153rd Infantry Division of the Arkansas National Guard was built as a WPA project under the leadership of Sulphur Rock–based Dutch immigrant architect and construction engineer Blaauw. Similar in its Gothic Revival styling to other armories of the period, it originally had two limestone panels in the upper facade featuring Company L’s insignia and motto. Much of the rock work was carried out by African American master mason Samuel T. Finley, who used a traditional “hammering” technique to shape the exterior surfaces of the stones. Local quarries donated stone, and the Bryant Lumber Company cut and milled twenty-foot pine timbers. The National Guard required its men to provide part of the labor. The Batesville company was among the Guard units called out for service in Little Rock during the 1957 Central High School (PU44) crisis. In 1976 Company L moved to a modern facility at 1690 White Drive, and the building was donated for a regional history museum. Renovated for its new function, the museum, with exhibit and meeting spaces, opened in two phases, in 1995 and 2005. With its sandstone interior walls, large windows front and rear, and exposed rainbow trusses, the building itself is the most impressive artifact on display.

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, "Old Independence Regional Museum (Arkansas National Guard Building)", [Batesville, 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, 86-87.

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