The Newtons came to Union County from Alabama in 1843 and established a 2,500-acre cotton plantation, but in 1849 they moved to El Dorado so that their children could get better schooling. They purchased 546 acres in what was then the northeast outskirts of the town on which they constructed their large two-story frame dwelling, the oldest remaining in Union County. Its vernacular roots are evident in its plain, boxy exterior, its steep gable roof, its upright verticality, and its simple central hall plan. More stylish, though, are the Greek Revival elements of the square columns and deep pediment of the entrance portico, the bull’s-eye corner blocks at the windows, the pairs of vertical panels in the double-leaf front doors, the prominent though plain entablature wrapping the whole, and the flush boards surrounding each exterior doorway. The rear outbuilding arrangement of the Newton House is highly unusual among Arkansas’s remaining antebellum homes. Joined by an open breezeway to the rear porch are two separate chambers of identical size, each with its own gable end roof, one a detached kitchen, the other a bedroom. The central hall, double-pile plan of the house is characteristic of southern Arkansas and of the Lowland South origin of the Newtons. Though John Newton died in 1862 of wounds suffered at the Battle of Shiloh, where he was serving as a Confederate Army captain, members of the Newton family occupied the house until 1898. The Newton House has been restored by the South Arkansas Historical Foundation, which has owned it since 1977.
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Newton House Museum (John and Penelope Newton House)
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