Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Historical Register

I've decided to hold off on trains or theaters for a while because I still need to take a few more pictures first. For the sake of clarity!

So for now let's talk about the National Register of Historical Places. I'd heard about this particular group plenty of times in the past, usually in reference to some building or another. One day I found a link to their web site, and then the listing for White County. When I printed it out, I got something like 20 pages of data.

My immediate impulse was to travel all over Searcy and the neighboring towns to try to find items on the list. The site listed what the buildings were previously used for and what they're used for now. Some of them were listed "vacant/not in use." Most of the entries were made in the early 90s, though, so we were prepared for failure. We did unearth quite a few gems, however. Here are some obvious ones, first.

Trinity Episcopal Church; the Methodist Church; the Rialto Theater; Cumberland Presbyterian Church; the Confederate war memorial outside of the courthouse, respectively. All of these are on the register, and all of them have some sort of historical value. For examples, those are definitely the three most old and beautiful churches in Searcy (although there is one that's even older, but that's for another time).

Here are some buildings which may be a little less obvious:

1. Bank of Searcy, now an office space. I don't have an old picture of this building, but there is a tiny plaque on the side which reads "bank of Searcy, 1908." Imagine a time when a town would only have one bank, and everyone knew the people who worked there.

2. Former Searcy Post Office. It's some kind of court building now. I love the architecture on this building; if you've ever been to any of the current post offices in Searcy, you'd probably agree with me. The right picture is circa 1955. Note the addition on the rear of the current view.

3. Robertson's drug store, now Quattlebaum's music center. Note that the building just next door, Stott's, is a drug store and seems to have been operating at the same time as Robertson's. Also note that at some point it seems to have been a cafe. In the contemporary photo, there is a tiny black rectangle on the corner of Robertson's just under the awning. That's a plaque which reads "Robertson's Drug Store, 1860."

4. Mayfair Hotel. This is one that jumped out at me: I've always seen this building (home to apartments and a couple of businesses now) and thought it belonged somewhere in Europe. Evidently it used to be a center for community in its day, serving both as a hotel and a restaurant. Behind the building is a large parking lot, which in previous times was a garden for the hotel's owners. Here's a picture of that:

Paved paradise, put up a parking lot. Classic case.

Some photos courtesy of the White County Historical Society (http://www.argenweb.net/white/#). For those curious, here's the National Register for Historical Places: http://www.nps.gov/nr/ .

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