This is the fourth 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.
This week we’ll continue our tour of Monticello’s North Main Street by returning to the north end of the street where the site of the new library sits and “strolling” down the east side of North Main Street.
First, please allow me to remind you of something before we begin. This tour of the east side of North Main is a walk down memory lane. This is not dry, dull meticulous research with tons of figures for property boundaries. It is a lighthearted look at history the way things were remembered by some of our older, most respected citizens. Just enjoy!
Looking south from the corner of Jefferson and Main street, the first house we see is the historic J. D. McCloy home. Mr. McCloy worked at McCloy and Trotter General Store and in 1901 helped establish the Citizen’s Bank. It later merged with Monticello Bank and Trust to become Union Bank and Trust Co.
This two-story red brick home was constructed in 1915. Before it was begun, there was an older house on the lot. It was rolled on logs to the vacant lot to the south where the McCloy family lived while the new one was being erected. As the story goes, the children of the family rode on the front porch with their feet dangling off as the house was moved along. Some of the most visible and unique features on the exterior of the house are the widow’s walk on top and the wide balconies and verandas. The matching wide doors with the sidelights on both doors are exquisite. The “widow’s walk” feature is a story within itself. Originally the home had an elevator.
J. D. McCloy Sr.’s son, Joe McCloy, moved into the house later. It has had several owners in recent years. Every spring, the azaleas behind the wrought iron fence bloom in the northwest corner of the front yard and brighten Main Street.
South of the J. D. McCloy house was the McCloy pasture. This area is where the old house was rolled in 1915 when the construction on the present house began. Several years ago the pasture lot was sold and the property split, with the Presbyterian manse built on part of it and apartments on the other portion.
Next to the apartments is another rather unique house. It is our local “Sears” house. Yes, it was sold by Sears and Roebuck as a package deal in 1906. The package included lumber, woodwork, windows, doors, staircase, nails, etc… Everything needed to build the house was supposedly included and the cost of the entire “package” was $895. It was originally purchased and delivered to the Wells family by wagon. The late Virginia Wells Lucky was a child at the time. A “brick-making machine” was provided to mold the concrete blocks for the exterior walls.
This machine was also used in the construction of the Brooks house on the next block, the Cavaness house that is now the museum, and several others around town. It can now be seen at the Drew County Museum.
The house has since had several owners. Mr. and Mrs. W. C. (Minnie) Hobgood moved into the home in 1938. Wayne and Betty Evans purchased it in 1994. It has been rented and then resold in recent years.
The next lot that is now occupied by several government offices once held the red brick home of the Owen family. Mr. Owen once owned a hardware store where City Health Mart sits today. The home was sold to a Mr. Lack who in turn sold it to Bob Marsh, former owner of the Ben Franklin Store on the square and a horticulturist. The property was later sold to the state who built offices on the site.
Now we come to the last house on the block; a charming pink Victorian cottage with the enviable white picket fence. The house was built in the 1880’s. It once stood across the street on the lot that now holds the Allen house. It was rolled across the street on logs when the Allens began their big house. I have been told that it has not been a family home since the 1940s. More recently, Joe and Gloria Wright have purchased the house and used it as a bed-and-breakfast and later apartments.
That concludes our tour for this week. Next week we’ll cover the next long block on our way downtown. Come see us at the museum.