This is the twenty-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 pick up our tour and cover the block on west side of South Main Street from West Jackson Avenue to West College Avenue. The first house we see on the north end of this block is the old Joe S. Harris house. Joe Harris was a native Monticellonian and retired brigadier general for whom the local American Legion Post was named. Harris’ military career began in 1903 as an Army private and ran through WWI (1917-1918), the formative years of the Arkansas National Guard and his command of National Guard troops during the disastrous floods of 1927. Harris was also the uncle of the late Eric Hardy, a founding father of the Drew County Museum.
Later residents of the old Harris home have included members of the Van Cruce family and Dayspring Behavioral Health Services. Presently it is the home of good friend Wade Newman and his family. This two-story house has an attic and several unique features, including the massive chimney on the front. Another chimney looms at the rear of the house. The “pie slice” shapes of the angular attic dormers are unusual and attractive, as well as the appealing front porch.
Moving south we see two small, single-story, white wood-frame houses. These houses were preceded by a large home belonging to Mr. and Mrs. John Deal. Mr. Deal was a brother to Tom Deal who once owned a wholesale business near the railroad tracks on Conley Street.
Next we come to the present-day Methodist parsonage. Its orange-colored brick, modified octagonal share and hipped roof give it a quite modern look (1960s). That lot(s) once held the two-storied, red brick home of Frank and Esther Scott. Mr. Scott worked for the Trotters and Esther was a respected schoolteacher.
The next home is a buff brick house that had an old-fashioned red tile roof until recently. Fanlights flanked both sides of the front door and stucco eaves highlighted the side porch. Many other exterior features make it appear quite unique. It was the former home of the late John Posey. Two ladies – a Mrs. Cornell and a Mrs. Robertson (or Robinson) – also lived there at separate times, as well as Robert Meeks. Most recently it is the home of Sara Blackmon.
The next house, a lighter buff brick, once belonged to Andrew Baxter. Baxter owned and operated the department store, The Leader, at one time. The arched front door and side porch make it highly attractive. Rev. and Mrs. Lorenzo Simmons now enjoy the unique and attractive home. An alley runs between the Simmons house and the next one.
That next one is the large, stately two-story home presently belonging to Mr. Charles Jackson. It was actually built around 1900 by the late J. C. and Lulu Williamson. Later the Williamsons moved out to Williamson Hill and George Spence, former county circuit clerk, bought the house. The Jacksons purchased the home from him.
The home has an attached garage at its rear and an appealing wraparound porch on its north side as well as unique dormer windows accenting the attic. The Jacksons built an enclosed gazebo in the backyard for summer relaxation. The entire property emanates a feeling of gentility and serenity much like Mr. Jackson.
The one story, red brick next to the Jacksons once belonged to Fagin McClerkin. Mr. McClerkin willed the home to the Drew County Museum who sold it to fund maintenance at the museum. Since then owners have included Jane Holder Cross and the Nat Grubbs family. Its charming front glass door and porch on the south end give the home much appeal. (I’m unsure who lives there now – and I hate to knock on one’s door and ask.)
The last home presently on the block was the original home of Dr. R. D. Dickens, a Mississippian by birth, who practiced medicine in Monticello from 1934 until 1942 when he entered the army during WWII. During these Monticello years he married Anne Elizabeth Edwards, daughter of Rev. John Roddy Edwards, pastor of the Wood Avenue Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. After the war, the family relocated to Pine Bluff.
The white, two-story home was easily recognized by its distinctive shuttered second story windows. The unusual roofline over the entry porch added to the quaintness of the home. After the war the home was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Porter until Mrs. Porter’s recent demise. The home is now being remodeled and the grounds cleaned and landscaped.
The last structure still standing on the block is now an office building. Until a scant few years ago it was a Gulf Service Station originally operated by George White. Some of the other owner/operators have been Paul Harmon and Kim and June Coon. The Ralph Wellses bought the building and converted it into office spaces a couple of years ago.
I understand that a large, two-story house owned by a Mrs. Cooper sat on the site before the service station was built.
This concludes my knowledge of this west side of the block between Jackson and College avenues. Next week we’ll cross the street and cover the east side of the same block. If you have any additional information, please call. Be blessed!