Courthouse Square Walking Tour (Map)
John F. Rhodes was county judge when construction of the present fifth courthouse for the county and a county jail were approved September 12, 1910. The architect was Chamberlain & Co., Birmingham, Alabama, and Fort Worth, Texas; contractor Falls City Construction Co., Louisville, Kentucky. Cost was $99,740 including the jail.
The three-story, brick courthouse was built on Marion public square on the site of the first Marion courthouse. Court sessions were held in the basement prior to completion of the upper floors. The courthouse and jail were completed October 5, 1911.
Frequently, the second floor was converted into a ballroom for all-night dances at which W. C. Handy, the famous Memphis musician, and his band played. It was also utilized for religious services. The current Crittenden County Courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in August, 1977.
As a health clinic, the doctors and nurses provided health care both at the clinic in Marion as well as traveling throughout the county to deliver services such as immunizations to the rural population of Crittenden County. Use of the building as a health department was discontinued in 1982 when the department headquarters was moved to West Memphis
Medical and dental services were provided by a number of physicians living in Marion. In a day when “house calls” were normal course of business, sometimes they were called to go into rural areas or on the plantations which surrounded Marion. Pictured above are Doctors A.C. Parker, W.B. Jamison and L.C. McVay in 1918.
The Marion Methodist Church, established in 1835, is the second oldest Methodist congregation in the State of Arkansas. The congregation was served by circuit riders who traveled on horseback. The first pastor was assigned to Marion in 1843.
The first Methodist Church building in Marion was a log structure on the west bank of Marion Lake. This log structure was destroyed in by a cyclone in 1873. That same year, the women of the church raised $800 for the construction of a one-room, gable-ended building with the only entrance being double doors on the east face. Windows with white-painted panes lined each side of the structure which contained pews seating 100. The girders supporting the structure are wood pegged, hand-hewn cypress beams.
Pictured above is the “new” frame Methodist Church structure, completed in 1876, which had an elevated chancel area on the west end with the pump organ on one side of the pulpit. If you look carefully at the sides of the building, you can see the location of the original tall, narrow windows.
The church bell was brought from Memphis by ferry and wagon. This church building was used for more than religious services as the Town of Marion continued to grow. It also served as a community center, temporary courtroom, a place for school programs, and recitals. Due to deterioration in recent years, it became necessary to take the building down.
This Greek Revival home was built by Dr. McVay, who came from Paris, Arkansas, in Logan County. Originally a school teacher, McVay changed his profession to medicine and practiced in Marion for more than 50 years.
The house is an example of a “Four-Square House”, four square rooms on each floor. Originally there was a second floor, screened, sleeping porch above the existing porch. The home has a large attic and a partial basement which housed a coal-fired furnace which supplemented heat from two fireplaces, one in the large entry hall and the second upstairs in the library. His daughters later converted the house into apartments, one on each floor. It was purchased by the Britton family in 1971 who have restored the house and saved it from ruin.
Dr. McVay served as a Marion city official as an alderman, recorder, and treasurer, in addition to his medical practice. He helped establish the Marion Masonic Lodge and was active in the Marion Methodist Church.
The lake was originally named for Augustine Grandee who had been commandant of Fort Esperanza, which had been constructed by the Spanish in 1795 on the west bank of the Mississippi River. This area is part of Spanish Land Grand 2324. The Spanish Land Grants usually were positioned on the highest ground in an area, on the downstream side of the streams where the flood waters deposited the rich alluvial soil and created natural levees.
The trail provides an insight into what the original settlers would have encountered in much of Crittenden County as they attempted to establish home sites and farms. It is typical of the Delta region, an ecological treasure of the bottomland hardwood and cypress which made Memphis “Hardwood Capital of the World” and which also provides a habitat for aquatic mammals such as beaver, muskrat and mink.
Parts were used off of this building for the construction of the new jail to the west of the Courthouse, and then the building was abandoned. Arkansas Power & Light (AP&L) purchased the building in 1931 as part of a project to bring Marion a water system. After acquisition, AP&L removed the second story and converted the structure into a “Spanish-design” stuccoed brick office building.
When the new AP&L building was built on Military Road in 1968, the building was donated to Marion Boy Scout Troop 72. Scouts continued to use the building to hold their meetings and other activities.
It was such a vital transportation link for the county seat that the Arkansas Legislature wrote “Act XLVII March 18th, 1881: An Act To declare Grandee Lake (commonly called Marion Lake,) and the outlet thereto, in Crittenden County, a navigable stream, and for other purposes…” The use of the stream was also critical to the development of other early outlying communities; much of the transportation of goods had to be provided by boat since there were few roads and most of these were impassable during the rainy season. Swampy conditions were one of the primary reasons that road building was so difficult through this area. The location of the county seat was moved from Greenock to Marion because the road was impassable during much of the year.
The present Marion Hotel was designed and built by Major Moore for Thomas F. Koser and completed in December of 1911. The building, constructed of native hardwoods, brick, and concrete, has pressed tin ceilings and hardwood floors. The hotel had its own water system and a coal-burning boiler provided the building with radiant steam heat. The original lighting was provided by gas lamps. Electricity, telephones and plumbing was not added until the 1920’s. The U-shape of the structure allowed for natural cross-ventilation of the structure.
A big dance was given to celebrate the opening of the hotel prompted a hairdresser coming from Memphis to provide the latest hairdos for the ladies who would be attending. The hotel’s dining room was a favorite spot for those who chose to dine out. The Hotel was the location for most important social events and there are stories of Mayor Crump of Memphis frequently visiting the hotel for these events. The large second floor lobby was used for weekly social events.
The two-story brick building contained 36 rooms, three with private baths, three apartments on the west side, one of which housed G. T. Treadgill’s barber shop and pool hall, one apartment and a dormitory, and the dining room were on the east side. The hotel, which offered a private room for $40 a month or a room for two for $37.50 a month, became the home for most Marion teachers in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
At one time, the first floor east wing of the first floor was used as a dining room with the remaining areas on the first floor used as a drug store, post office, doctor’s office. In the mid-forties, the rooms were converted into apartments. The hotel was the location of the Marion Post Office from 1925 to 1961.
As the county and its businesses began to prosper, banks provided a depository for monies and a source for needed capital for new businesses and homes. Unfortunately, many of the early banks failed. Of the four banking institutions which operated in this building, only one, Citizens Bank, survived. It moved in 1956 into the building operated today as the Marion City Hall, and later into another building at the corner of Pine and Block streets. Citizens Bank was merged with National Bank of Commerce of Memphis, Tennessee in 1999.
Located in the magnolia grove on the Courthouse Green, the granite marker on the south lawn was erected by the Crittenden County Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It was dedicated on October 4, 1936, as a memorial to those who served with the Confederate military during the Civil War. The magnolia trees were planted by the same U.D.C. chapter on the south lawn of the courthouse. One tree is separately marked with a bronze plaque in memory of Major R. F. Crittenden, Confederate soldier, 1846-1899. One of the stained glass windows in the Marion Methodist Church on Military Road is a memorial to the same man.
Sites on the Schoolhouse Row Walking Tour (Map)
During the westward migration after the Louisiana Purchase, roads to move men and material were critical to the development of the new lands acquired by the United States. The Military Road was built to link Memphis on the east of the Mississippi River to Little Rock, the capital of the Arkansas Territory. Its location within Marion placed the town in a very advantageous position when coupled with boat traffic and later with the advent of the railroad.The Delta Artists Society mural recreates the age of riverboat travel which played an important part in the development of the Town of Marion. Since large portions of the land was frequently flooded by the Mississippi River, most bulk goods had to be delivered by boat and then broken down into loads which could be hauled by wagon. Many of the land-owning families of this area trace their histories to ancestors who were riverboat captains and acquired the land along the rivers to cut the trees for fuel for their boats and later cultivated the cleared land.
For the 1912-13 school year, the district had enumerated 813 children of school age, but few were attending classes despite a compulsory state attendance law. There was only one graduate each in 1916, 1917, and 1918. The Marion High School was recognized as a member of the North Central Association of Secondary Schools in 1928.
The original school district was predominately contained in T7N, R8E, but has grown to its existing size of approximately 100 square miles due to annexation of other districts. Construction of new school buildings within the district has been necessary to keep pace with the growth in the number of students. A new first grade facility at Avondale was completed for the 2001 school year and there has been steady expansion at the school complex located between Polk and Carter.
The home economics cottage (pictured) and cafeteria on this site was completed May 15, 1930, and was removed in 2001 to make way for additional classrooms. The existing elementary school on this site was complete in 1949.
This home, constructed almost exclusively with Mississippi cypress supplied by Mrs. Curlin’s father, was built by Howard Curlin, Crittenden County Sheriff 1931-42. The home is unusual in that its detailed quoins and cornice are also constructed of cypress.
This home was built by Judge John F. Rhodes and later occupied by Claude W. Cooper. A “mirror-image” of this home is still standing in Gilmore, Arkansas.
This Craftsmen-style home was built by John Franklin Fogleman, grandson of the Sultana rescuer, banker and farmer. The house replaced the original home on this site which burned the day before Christmas Eve, 1927. Childhood home of Arkansas Supreme Court Justice John A. Fogleman.
This home was built by Robert Thomas Kuhn with wife Mary King Kuhn as architect. The colonial front porch with fluted Doric columns and the sunporch were added in 1949. Mrs. Kuhn purchased the materials and supervised the construction for both the original house and the addition. Both Mr. & Mrs. Kuhn were merchants and planters.
In the first half of the Twentieth Century, most towns had community centers which served as the focus of the social life of the town. Events were held weekly in various community centers to allow for the people of different towns to visit with one another. One of the largest, and finest, community centers was located at Harvard Yards, just north of Marion.
Selection of the site for the Woolfolk Library was done to place the facility in the “center” of community life. Built on the site of the Marion Century Club, organized in 1925, the new building resembles the clubhouse which was constructed in 1937 and served as Marion’s community center.
Much of the information contained on this site, on the walking trails signs, and in the trail guides have been extracted from either The History of Marion or The History of Crittenden County written by Margaret Elizabeth Woolfolk. Woolfolk was an award-winning newspaper editor, graduated from Memphis State Law School in 1985 at the age of 68, entered into private practice, and served as Marion municipal judge.
When classrooms were carved out of the second floor auditorium space in the first high school, Marion students and the entire community used a tabernacle on the south side of the high school for any events requiring an auditorium. Prior to the construction of the auditorium, Marion’s basketball teams played in this same structure. Erected for the Culpepper revival in 1924 and originally using sawdust as flooring, it was floored and enclosed 1927 with side areas added for bleacher-seating of spectators. Four potbellied, coal-fired stoves heated the building.
After the new auditorium-gymnasium was completed in 1938, an exhibition basketball game was planned as a special event. It was played by Louisiana State University and Southwestern at Memphis in 1939. In addition to the 1939 LSU/Southwestern game, in 1940, the University of Arkansas Cagers played Southwestern at Memphis in this same building.