This is the third in a series of columns by State Rep. Sheilla Lampkin about historic sites in Monticello. Lampkin is active in historic preservation in Arkansas and has received several awards from the Arkansas Historical Preservation Association. She writes a regular historical column for several area publications.
Last week we “walked” the blocks of North Main that hold the First Presbyterian Church, the noted Allen House and the forlorn block that once was the home of Monticello’s earlier elementary schools in our “tour” of Monticello’s North Main Street.
This week, we’ll slowly move south to the beautifully, and uniquely, domed building on North Main that was originally the site of Monticello’s Christian Scientist church. The building is thought to have been constructed around the turn of the century. We have a few pictures of it in the museum’s Southeast Arkansas Regional Archives on College Street. Miss Mittie Brooks, a Mrs. Conner and the Cavaness sisters, Virgil and Sally, were early members. Various other denominations have owned and used the building in later years.
Next to the church building formerly stood a two-story home built in the early 1900s that once was owned by Eric Hardy. Later Mr. Hardy moved to the family home on South Main and Drs. Robert and Lewis Hyatt shared the building as offices. Dr. Robert Hyatt was a medical doctor and Dr. Lewis Hyatt was a dentist. Dr. Robert Hyatt later left the office and Dr. Ross Hyatt took his place. Dr. Robert Hyatt went to the little red building west of the Monticello Economic Development Commission building (the old post office) on West Gaines. This building formerly belonged to a Dr. Dickens who didn’t return to Monticello after WWII.
After the Hyatts gave up their offices, the house went through several hands and was even partitioned into apartments for a fraternity from UAM at one point. It was later bought and remodeled and then resold. The last residents were Mr. and Mrs. Casmer Kirby. The house has been torn down now to expand the parking lot for First Baptist Church.
Another house stood next to the old Hyatt offices for many years. A family named Remley once occupied the one-story frame house. Mr. Remley was an early AP&L manager in Monticello and was related to the Hyatts. The home was later purchased and remodeled by Mr. and Mrs. Bob Newman. This house was also removed when the church expanded.
The new building at First Baptist Church sits approximately where an early log house sat. Later Reginald Trotter, V. J. Trotter’s son, built a big two-story Colonial style house on the property. It was purchased by Herschel and Olivia Gober and moved to Ozment Bluff in the 1960’s. It has since caught fire and burned.
The First Baptist Church is the oldest church in town to remain on its original site. The congregation first met at the early community known as Rough and Ready, but moved to Monticello in 1860 after the townsite was laid out. The first church building was a rectangular frame structure with a white steeple. In 1907 the old church was torn down and a new brick one built. It has been remodeled and added to several times over the years, but has remained at its original site.
The last block on the west side of Main Street is occupied by Union Bank. It was begun in 1915 as a merger of two smaller banks – Citizen’s Bank and Monticello Bank and Trust Co. It, too, has been remodeled with additions, once in 1951 and again in 1975, and remains a showplace on the Square.
This concludes our visit down the west side of old Main Street in Monticello. I have relied primarily on the recollections of older residents of our city and their remembrances of how Monticello used to be. If I have made any errors, or left anyone out, I apologize. Remember: To err is human; to forgive divine.
I want to especially thank my dear friends, Charles Jackson, the late Helen Stuckey and Henri Mason for their help and recollections in preparing this piece. Their memories are priceless.
In our next article we’ll journey down the east side of North Main. See you then!