The Great Depression of the 1930s was a profound disaster for many Arkansans and their fellow Americans. But one positive legacy of that deep economic crisis can be appreciated while traveling in almost any part of the Natural State.
A brochure created by Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, identifies nearly 150 notable Depression-era structures built to create jobs for unemployed workers.
They were commissioned starting in 1933 by various New Deal entities established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. Many are now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The works are as impressive as Mather Lodge at Petit Jean State Park, built along with other structures there by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Or they are as unassuming as the Beebe city jail, described in the brochure as "this grim little cast-concrete structure" erected under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration.
The CCC and the WPA were among a swarm of acronym agencies that did work in Arkansas and elsewhere. Others included CWA (Civil Works Administration), ERA (Emergency Relief Administration), FSA (Farm Security Administration), NYA (National Youth Administration) and PWA (Public Works Administration).
The brochure lists more than a dozen county courthouses built by these federal agencies during the Depression. They serve Newton County (Jasper), Madison County (Huntsville), Johnson County (Clarksville), Sebastian County (Fort Smith), Scott County (Waldron).
Also Baxter County (Mountain Home), Randolph County (Pocahontas), Prairie County (DeValls Bluff), Polk County (Mena), Howard County (Nashville), Hempstead County (Hope), Miller County (Texarkana), Lafayette County (Lewisville) and Lee County (Marianna).
Most of the post offices built by federal programs in the 1930s are decorated with murals painted by artists under the U.S. Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts. They include those in Berryville, Van Buren, Paris, Piggott, Wynne, Morrilton, Nashville, DeWitt and Lake Village.
The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program brochure asserts that "the New Deal building programs left a significant impression on the state of Arkansas. Hundreds of roads, dams, bridges, schools, government buildings and other structures were completed through the efforts of those who toiled, often for as little as one dollar per day, on these public works projects."
The surviving works from the 1930s "remind present and future generations of the hardships faced by those who experienced the Great Depression, and stand as monuments to what can be accomplished through determination and hard work, as well as the positive role government can play in shepherding a nation through hard times."
For more information, contact Arkansas Historic Preservation Program at arkansaspreservation.org.
Weekend on 11/24/2016
Print Headline: Brochure lists New Deal structures across state