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Commercial Buildings on Garrison Avenue

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Late 19th century–present. 500–1200 W. Garrison Ave.
  • (Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, A Division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage)

Garrison Avenue may have been laid out by John Rogers (see SB4), an early settler and trader. The street is unusually wide because it is said to have been used as a parade ground for soldiers. Garrison Avenue’s buildings are a mix of heights from two-story Italianate and Romanesque Revival commercial structures to multistory twentieth-century office and hotel buildings. Like many historic downtown commercial boulevards, it has lost some of its original vitality and luster and has experienced some abandonment. Nevertheless, at the corner of Garrison and 6th Street are three high-rise buildings that demonstrate the city’s twentieth-century economy and range of styles. At 521–523 Garrison, the eleven-story former Ward Hotel (1929), which features a limestone base, brick walls, and details that include sculptural swags above the windows, is being converted into apartments and commercial space. The First National Bank of Fort Smith occupies the eight-story early-twentieth-century structure at 602 Garrison. It has elaborate terra-cotta ornamentation along the top story and finishes with a prominent modillioned cornice. Completely different is the First Federal Savings and Loan (c. 1960) at 542 Garrison. This asymmetrical midcentury modern composition of six stories, with a partially open seventh-story terrace covered by the flat roof, has a plain tower-like corner carrying a vertical sign of stacked box-like shapes. The building has smooth curtain walls of aluminum and aqua-colored spandrels.

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, "Commercial Buildings on Garrison Avenue", [Fort Smith, 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, 94-95.

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