Camp Monticello, a World War II Italian prisoner-of-war camp located east of Monticello, is among 10 sites the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas has named to its 2018 list of Arkansas’ Endangered Places.
Arkansas Preservation News Release:
The camp was one of four main camps and 30 branch camps in Arkansas that interned enemy prisoners during the war.
Construction on the camp began in 1942 and consisted of three compounds for enlisted men, two compounds for officers, a hospital, garrison echelon, and other facilities. The camp was surrounded by barbed-wire fences and guard towers.
After the British captured much of the Italian high command at Tobruk and elsewhere in North Africa, Italian POWs, the vast majority of them officers, began to arrive at Camp Monticello in 1943. POWs spent their time working, playing sports, attending Mass, preparing Italian meals, learning, and creating art.
The camp was closed in 1945 at the conclusion of World War II, and prisoners were eventually returned to Italy. The camp property was declared surplus and purchased by Arkansas A&M College, now the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Since the 1940s, the college has used much of the former camp for teaching livestock and forest management. For this reason, Camp Monticello is one of the best preserved POW camps in the U.S. The site retains many character-defining features including original asphalt roads, building foundations, an 80’ brick chimney from the camp hospital, steam boilers, and ruins of a chapel built by POWs.
Each May during Arkansas Heritage Month and National Preservation Month, Preserve Arkansas announces a list of historic properties threatened by deterioration, neglect, insufficient resources, insensitive public policy, or inappropriate development. The Most Endangered Places list includes properties from all over Arkansas and helps to raise awareness of their significance and the need for preservation. The goal of the list is that inclusion will generate interest, discussions, and proposals on how to save these important resources.
The 2018 list of Arkansas’ Most Endangered Places
Camp Monticello, Drew County
Centennial Baptist Church, Helena, Phillips County
First Baptist Church/EMOBA, Ernie’s Museum on Black Arkansas, Little Rock, Pulaski County
First Presbyterian Church, Fordyce, Dallas County
Latimore Tourist Home, Russellville, Pope County
Magnolia Cemetery, Helena, Phillips County
Ponder’s Drug Store/Capel Building, Little Rock, Pulaski County
Rock Island Railroad Depot, also known as the Perry Depot, Perry, Perry County
Quinn African Methodist Episcopal Church, Fort Smith, Sebastian County
Thomas-Tharp House, Fayetteville, Washington County