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Place-based Essays

Essays in SAH Archipedia are broadly grouped as either place-based or thematic. Place-based essays include overviews of architecture in specific U.S. states and cities. Thematic essays examine architectural and urban issues within and across state and regional boundaries. Like individual building entries, essays are accompanied by rich subject metadata, so you can browse them by style, type, and period. SAH Archipedia essays are comprised of peer-reviewed scholarship (born-digital and print-based) contributed by architectural historians nationwide.

Harrison

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

Boone County, founded in 1869, was carved out of the large Carroll and Marion counties in order to create a county seat within a day’s travel for the region’s residents. Survey engineer and Union...

River Valley

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

The Arkansas River cuts a diagonal path across Arkansas flowing southeast to join the Mississippi River at the state’s southeast corner. The river and its valley give this region its name. Hemmed in by...

Fort Smith

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

Fort Smith was established in 1817 on a bluff near the confluence of the Poteau and Arkansas rivers and named for General Thomas Smith, the military district’s commander. With its splendid...

Little Rock

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

Little Rock was settled in 1814 on a rocky bluff overlooking the Arkansas River, and a steamboat stopped here as early as 1820. In 1821 the town was made the seat of the territorial government...

North Little Rock

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

Although Little Rock was established by 1820, settlement on the comparatively low-lying north side of the Arkansas River did not parallel the growth on the south side. On most early...

Ouachitas

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

The Ouachita Mountains characterize this region. They extend as long, narrow ridges running west from eastern Oklahoma to central Arkansas. Sandy soil and the drier climate of the Ouachitas’ south-facing...

Hot Springs and Vicinity

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

Nestled in the Ouachita Mountains, the city of Hot Springs is famous for its thermal springs, bathhouses, and the natural beauty of its setting. Central Avenue (originally named...

Gulf Coastal Plain

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

The Gulf Coastal Plain in the southwest and south of Arkansas is bounded on the west by Texas and on the south by Louisiana. Physically the region shares much in common with the border counties...

Texarkana

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

Texarkana spreads across two states: Texas and Arkansas. It is generally thought that it takes its name from a combination of the two with a portion of Louisiana thrown in, for that state is a...

El Dorado

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

El Dorado was founded, platted, and designated the county seat in 1843, and a courthouse and hotel were built shortly after. Agriculture, particularly cotton, was the mainstay of the region’s...

Delta

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

The Delta region is composed of the counties that run from Arkansas’s northeastern border with Missouri south to Louisiana. It is bounded on the east by the Mississippi River and, across the river, by the...

Jonesboro

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

When Craighead County was created and Jonesboro laid out in 1859, the log store of fur trader William Puryear was designated the temporary courthouse until a building could be constructed....

Helena–West Helena

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

Sylvanus Phillips with William Russell and Nicholas Rightor laid out the town of Helena in 1821 and named it for Phillips’s daughter, Helena. The town was made the county seat in 1830...

Lonoke

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

Lonoke was founded in 1869 and incorporated on January 22, 1872. The name was derived from a solitary red oak tree (a lone oak) that stood on the site of the present town. The town is situated near...

Pine Bluff

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

Pine Bluff is a microcosm of the Arkansas Delta: from boom to decline and encompassing the very wealthy and the very poor. Yet there is a collective effort from within and outside to revitalize...

Arizona

By: R. Brooks Jeffery and Jason Tippeconnic Fox

Arizona is a layered cultural landscape composed of stark and inspiring natural features that have shaped the multiple cultural groups who have occupied this region for millennia, including Native Americans, Latinos, and European Americans. Like Arizona’s people, its...

California

By: Emily Bills

California’s architecture is as diverse as the state’s population, its economy, and its natural landscapes. As much a state of mind as a geographic area, the “Golden State” draws people seeking freedoms of great variety: religious, entrepreneurial, personal, cultural, and otherwise. Its architectural...

Colorado

By: Thomas J. Noel

Colorado's landscape dwarfs its architecture. The eastern high plains, massive central mountains, and western canyons are dramatic settings for buildings. Even the metropolitan strip along the eastern base of the Rockies, where three-fourths of all 3.9 million Coloradans reside, is overshadowed by...

The South Platte

By: Thomas J. Noel

Here is a land where life is written in water,
The West is where the water was and is,
Father and Son of old, mother and daughter,
Following rivers up immensities
Of range and desert, thirsting the sundown ever,
Crossing a hill to climb a hill still drier...

Denver

By: Thomas J. Noel

The discovery of golden specks in the South Platte River near its junction with Cherry Creek led to the creation of Denver City on November 22, 1858. Founder William Larimer, Jr., named the town for Kansas territorial governor James Denver to help ensure its selection as the seat of what was...

Civic Center

By: Thomas J. Noel

Civic Center (NRD), with its border of city, state, federal, and commercial office buildings, is the core legacy of Denver's City Beautiful era. Charles M. Robinson's 1906 plan used the state capitol as the eastern anchor of a civic mall connected to the central business district by...

Downtown

By: Thomas J. Noel

Denver has one of the country's more livable and walkable downtowns. The 16th Street Pedestrian Mall (1982, I. M. Pei and Partners) and the Lower Downtown (LoDo) Historic District, designated in 1988, have reversed deterioration of the city core. Urban renewal in the 1960s erased many...

Auraria

By: Thomas J. Noel

Auraria (from the Latin word for gold) was established a month before Denver, in October 1858, by William Greene Russell. Russell's party of friends and relatives from Georgia were the prospectors who first found gold in the South Platte near its confluence with Cherry Creek in July 1858...

Capitol Hill

By: Thomas J. Noel

Denver's millionaires built their showplace homes, schools, clubs, and churches here, surrounded by lawns along gridded, tree-lined streets with flagstone sidewalks. Some smaller homes, modest apartments, and nineteenth-century institutional and commercial buildings also survive...

Northeast Denver

By: Thomas J. Noel

Denver's magnificently planned, planted, and maintained parkways are best seen in Northeast Denver (north of Alameda Avenue Parkway and east of University Boulevard). The suggested route, with detours off the connecting parkways to see notable buildings, follows 7th Avenue...

Northwest Denver

By: Thomas J. Noel

Anglo settlement in Northwest Denver began after 1858, when Denver founder William H. Larimer waded across the South Platte River to stake out “Highlands.” This area began to thrive during the 1880s following construction of streetcar lines and viaducts over the South Platte...

South Denver

By: Thomas J. Noel

The town of South Denver sprouted along the Broadway streetcar line and grew to be the largest of the streetcar suburbs annexed by Denver. Incorporated in 1886, South Denver stretched from South Alameda to Yale avenues between Colorado Boulevard and Pecos Street. This white, middle-...

Adams County

By: Thomas J. Noel

Fort Convenience, the adobe fur trade fort built in the 1820s by Pierre Louis Vasquez at the confluence of Clear Creek and the South Platte River, was the county's first Euro-American structure. This mud fort had melted by 1858 when Captain Jack Henderson set up a ranch on a small island...

Brighton

By: Thomas J. Noel

Brighton (1871, 4,982 feet) was first named Hughes Station for Bela M. Hughes, president of the Denver Pacific Railroad. By 1879 Daniel F. Carmichael had purchased much of the area and renamed it for his wife's hometown of Brighton Beach, New York. Incorporated in 1887 with about 175...

Commerce City

By: Thomas J. Noel

Commerce City (1952, 5,150 feet) amalgamates several earlier settlements: Adams City, Derby, Irondale, and Rose Hill. Rose Hill centered on the Rose Hill Grange Hall and Rose Hill Hebrew Cemetery (1892), 6841 East 62nd Avenue. Commerce City was incorporated in 1952 to block Denver'...

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