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Old South Restaurant

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1947, William E. Stell. 1330 E. Main St.
  • (Photograph by Dell Upton)

A survivor of post–World War II roadside architecture, this streamlined Moderne diner is a prefabricated structure built by William E. Stell, owner of the National Glass and Manufacturing Company of Little Rock, who developed this modular diner package in the mid-1940s. The long and low building that resembles a dining car was constructed in six days. It is clad in porcelain-coated aluminum panels and is set on a concrete slab. A band of rectangular windows runs the length of the building, and the corner windows are rounded to enhance the railcar effect. Above the windows in large red neon letters are the names of the menu items—sizzling steaks and fried chicken—served within. A vertical sign with the diner’s name stands on the entrance porch. Nevertheless, to ensure that the restaurant is found at automobile speed along this commercial highway where many signs compete with each other, there is a large standing sign at the street edge. In yellow and red it announces the building’s name and includes a big red arrow pointing to the diner, which is set back behind parking spaces. The diner’s interior retains its stainless steel counter and stools, booth seating, and terrazzo floor.

Writing Credits

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


What's Nearby


Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors, "Old South Restaurant", [Russellville, 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, 108-109.

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