1905 Washington County Courthouse
4 South College
Fayetteville AR 72701
The historic Washington County Court House is the fifth county court
house. Prior to construction of the 1905 court house, Washington
County's other court houses were all on the Fayetteville square on or
near the site of the old Post Office. Captain Samuel Marrs constructed
the first court house in 1829 for a cost of $49.75. It was between
what is now Block Street and the Bank of Fayetteville and consisted
of a 20 x 20 log structure. The fate of the original structure is
unknown. In 1837 Washington County constructed a brick court house
for $6,398.75 Little is known about its design or builders. It was
apparently destroyed by fire. George Baker built the county's third
court house in 1854 for $6,900. It burned in 1862 during the Civil
War. Fortunately, county officials had removed the county's records
to Fincher's Cave near Black Oak prior to hostilities. As a result,
Washington County is only one of a handful of Arkansas counties that
did not lose its early nineteenth-century records during the Civil
War. Alexander Hendry built Washington County's fourth court house
in 1868 for $22,000. This brick structure was demolished in 1905.
County Judge Millard Berry, along with many other key players, took
part in the planning and building of the Historic Washington County
Court House. In 1902 Judge Berry and others convinced the people that
the 1868 court house was too small for the growing County, "unfitted
for the business of the County, unsafe and not worthy of repair". They
proposed to sell the public square property and to levy one mil
for construction of a new court house, cost not to exceed $75,000. The
City of Fayetteville put $5,000 into the fund in exchange for use of
space for City officials. The County transferred title to the Square
property to the City, where in 1911 a building was built on the Square
to become known as the Old Post Office in recent years.
Property was purchased just a block from the Square for about $5,000.
In early 1904 Judge Berry appointed J H McIlroy commissioner of public
buildings whose job was to submit a plan for construction of the new
court house. Little Rock architect Charles L Thompson was chosen to
draw up plans and specifications. Cost was estimated at $100,000 and
bids were requested. G W Donaghey of Conway offered the winning bid
at $98,500, and was given the contract.
Various stages of remodeling, additions and upgrades were made to the
1905 structure in the 1970's and 80's. Finally in 1989 the County was
able to purchase a modern office building now in use as County court
house and offices and the move into that building began in 1991. Much
discussion was held between the late 1990's and early 2000's about
closing or selling the 1905 building. Different County and public
groups had offices in the building during this time. In 1997 County
Judge Charles Johnson established the Washington County Archives to be
located in the old court house as County records had outgrown the space
available in the "new" court house.
in 2003 an advisory board was established to make recommendations on
the restoration and rehabilitation of the historic structure. The
exterior was repaired and restored to preserve the building and as of
2009 work is underway to restore the interior, due to reopen in 2010.
The Historic Washington County Court House by Tony Wappel,
Flashback Spring 2005
To return to Fayetteville Detail Map,click here!
Click here for a map to Old County Courthouse.