Historic Fayetteville Square
1 West Center Street

Fayetteville AR 72701


The Fayetteville Square, bounded by Center,East, Block and Mountain streets has been the hub of commercial activity since the town was founded. From the first auctions of lots surveyed in 1835, and auctions held from 1835 to 1837, the center of the square was "ordained to be inviolate". It was owned only by first the United States, then Washington County and finally deeded back to the United States for the post office built in 1911 in the center of the square. When the post office was moved to the Dickson and St.Charles location in 1974, the building on the square was sold to a local investor in 1978 and has housed offices and restaurants since that time.

The center of the square held County court houses until 1905, beginning probably in 1837 when the first brick courthouse was built. A earlier log building was built off the square in 1829. It is not known how long that building served. A second brick courthouse was built on the square in 1854 and burned during the Civil War. In 1868 the County's third brick, and fourth, court house was built on the square. That building was the County court house until the present historic Court House at College and Center was completed in 1905. (See Old Court House on Fayetteville map page).

In around 1830, a man named Nye opened the first store on the west side of the square. Before that time settlers had to go to Cane Hill or Evansville for what they could not either raise or hunt. In 1833 Alfred Wallace opened a general store also on the west side. Another store was built on the northeast corner of the square by William McGarrah, one of Fayetteville's earliest settlers. Many other prominent early citizens operated businesses of some sort, including Lodowic Brodie, James and Alfred Stirman, J L Dickson, James Sutton and Stephen Stone.

On April 6, 1861, a citizen's group raised a Confederate flag over the court house and presented it to local secessionists. The same day Fort Sumter was fired on in South Carolina. To February 18, 1862 Fayetteville retained "it's pre-war splendor". But the next day, retreating Confederate troops looted the town and finally burned anything thought to possibly be of use to advancing Union troops, including City and County buildings around or on the square. Later actions resulted in more destruction so that eventually all buildings on the square were burned. Campbell said "only one brick structure on the west side failed to burn". Stones and bricks from burned buildings were used to build fortifications by Confederates on the square in expectation of a Union advance on the town that never came or did not until the Confederates had abandoned the town. Following the end of the War, Stephen Stone and others opened for business among the ruins, rebuilding within a few years.

After the Frisco train came to Fayetteville in 1881, considerable development started nearer the tracks along Dickson and other streets. However the square remained the commercial center of town until the 1960 to 1970 time when outlying shopping centers were developed.

New buildings such as the Fayetteville Town Center on the south side, Arvest Bank on north and a bank/office/condominium building that occupies the entire east side have dramatically changed the appearance of the square. However a few older buildings remain. On the southeast corner, the 1920's Guisinger Music store is now the Odom Law Office which has retained the front entrance with tile floor and Guisinger name sign. The Bank of Fayetteville occupies the old Lewis Brothers Hardware store and part of the 1908 Mrs. Young building on the northwest side. During the summer, a farmers' market brings good crowds to the square on Tuesday,Thursday and Saturday.

Bibliography:
One Hundred Years of Fayetteville 1828-1928 by William S Campbell
The Historic Washington County Court House by Tony Wappel, Flashback
Spring 2005
Fayetteville Arkansas in the Civil War by Russell Mahan




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Click here for a map to the Square