In 1907 then-banker Charles Murphy began selling his Arkansas holdings in order to amass land in northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas and establish a timber business. His investment paid off spectacularly when the tracts he had purchased became part of the famous Smackover oil field that helped put El Dorado at the center of the petroleum industry in the early 1920s. The success of the company he founded, Murphy Oil Corporation, was ensured by the development of a submersible oil rig and the establishment of plants to extract bromine from the salt water, which initially had only been a troublesome by-product of south Arkansas oil drilling.
Eschewing the grand and opulent statement, the Murphys commissioned this understated, comfortable design in Tudor Revival for their two-story dark red brick house trimmed with limestone. The house is sited relatively close to the street on a seven-acre lot. The ground-hugging front presents a modest image, for only the side and rear elevations reveal the full size of this broad and irregularly massed house. The intimately scaled, arched entrance is sheltered by a small gabled porch, while above a tall chimney and three gabled projections break the lines of the steep tile roof, which sweeps down to form low, overhanging eaves. All of the interior wood trim is of custom-harvested red gum, with an exquisitely carved alcoved staircase and living room mantel and Tudor-shaped arches gracing the library bookshelves.