[Editor’s Note: This is the first 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.]
For the next several weeks we’ll take a “fun” tour down Main Street in historic Monticello.
We’ll begin on North Main at the “old” hospital grounds and continue down the street taking one side at a time. When we come to the Square, we’ll take a walk around the Square and see how it used to be. Then we’ll continue down South Main Street. I am relying on the excellent memory of many of my good friends as we take this journey down historic Monticello’s Main Street and I want to thank them from the beginning for their insightful recollections. Enjoy!
Let’s begin on that large, lovely lot at the end of old North Main that is now known as “the old hospital” grounds.
Around the turn of the century a large, white Colonial home stood on the property. It was the home of Miss Birdie J. Erwin, a childless spinster. She lived there with her father, Jack Erwin, who also owned a plantation in the nearby Delta. The house was two-storied with large white columns much like the old McCloy house across the street from W.C. Whaley School.
Some of the older generations remember walking by the Erwin house on their way to the old elementary school. At the time the house was at the end of the street and boasted a field and garden there too. Lightning struck the house one evening in 1927 and it burned. People recalled Miss Birdie “flying” out of the house in her nightgown.
In 1950 a “new hospital” was constructed on the site. Later it developed structural problems and was replaced in 1975 by the new Drew Memorial Hospital in the southwestern part of town. The lower floor of the old hospital was used for office space for years. Finally the lot was cleared and remains empty as you see it today. In the near future it will become the site of a new public library, but that’s another, later story!
Turning to look down the west side of Main Street from the “old hospital” we see the dwelling known today as the “Stuckey house”, the (former) home of the late Monroe and Helen Stuckey.
The house was originally built for D.R. Hankins in 1895. Mr. Hankins operated Hankins Grocery from 1908-1938. It was a wood frame house and the property lines with it ran to the First Presbyterian Church property. Mr. Hankins had a large garden on the back of the property to supply produce to his family and to sell at the store. He also had a barn and horses pastured south of the house at one time. He later moved his family to Crossett. The Stuckeys bought the house in 1944 and added siding, a breezeway and a garage.
Going past the Stuckey home the next smaller wood-framed house was originally built in the 1930s by Don Hankins Jr. in the area his parents once used as a pasture. Mr. Hankins went to work at Union Bank in 1947 and was there for years.
Between this Hankins home and the First Presbyterian Church once stood another wood frame house. It was built by A. B. Hankins, also a grocer, and later bought by D. B. Snoddy. Mr. Snoddy ran a watch repair business on the south side of the square. The Ben Snoddys tore down the original house and moved back on the lot to build the brick home that we see today.
Now we have reached the First Presbyterian Church. The church body was organized in 1860 and a grand, unique church building was later built where Drew Farm Supply now stands. Structural problems led to its abandonment and the church moved to its Main Street location in 1956.
Next week we’ll look closer at the Presbyterian Church and head further south along Monticello’s historic Main Street. Join us then!