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Arkansas Properties on the National Register of Historic Places: Estes-Williams Post #61 American Legion Hut, Yellville, Marion County

Arkansas Historic Preservation Program - Friday, January 16, 2015

The Estes-Williams Post #61 American Legion Hut at Yellville in Marion County was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 16, 2001. You can read this and other Arkansas National Register nominations at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/historic-properties/national-register/search.aspx.

SUMMARY

Constructed in 1933 and 1934 the Estes-Williams Post #61 American Legion Hut is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion A for its association with the American Legion and Civil Works Administration and under Criterion C as the best example of Rustic style architecture in Yellville, Arkansas.
ELABORATION

History of the American Legion
The American Legion was founded in France during the relatively uneventful days that followed the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. American enlisted men from all three of the principle branches of the of the service then in existence- the Army, Navy and Marine Corps were billeted in various locations for the purpose of maintaining a Military presence while negotiators worked out the details of the treaty that would outline the future for much of Europe for the next decade. These servicemen found life during the occupation uneventful, which only added to their dismay at not being able to return home to their families. A small group of officers, Lt. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt Jr. and Lt. Colonel George A. White, met to discuss the possibility of establishing a veterans’ organization that would include all branches of the military. The organization would serve the immediate purpose of providing an outlet for some of the energy and frustration felt by the troops still in Europe, and fulfill a long term goal of establishing a national veterans’ organization that would provide its members with a social organization and also as a vehicle to voice their concerns on national defense, social programs and veterans’ affairs.

Successive meetings over the course of the next several months in both Europe and America further defined the Legion’s mandate and purpose. However, it was the shooting of four Legionnaires during an Armistice Day parade in Centralia, Washington, in 1919 by Socialists IWW organizers and the trial that followed that both galvanized and tempered the Legionnaire spirit. In the trial they were portrayed as the aggressors, however, both the public and the Legion press recognized the dangers of extremism by any party. They also recognized the need for responsible vigilance against any activity that threatened the democratic form of government. The American Legion began to grow steadily thereafter through an organization of elected officers on the national, state and local level that provided a voice for its members regarding a variety of national concerns. During the Depression the American Legion distinguished itself through the expansion of local programs targeted at youth. Three main programs were American Legion Junior Baseball, the American Legion Oratorical Contest and Boys’ State.

Estes Williams American Legion Hut #61
In December 1920 a permanent American Legion Post was established at Yellville, Arkansas. The post was named the Estes-Williams Post #61. The post did not yet have a meeting hall of their own, so meetings were held at the Morris Hotel located in the town square in Yellville. There is little else known of the post until 1933 when its members submitted plans to the Civil Works Administration for an American Legion Hut to be built in Yellville. The plan was approved in a short amount of time and work commenced. The stipulations of the contract were that the Legion would provide the land and transportation for the materials and workers. The C.W.A. would provide the materials and the labor and the city council donated the land for the project.

George Cavaness, Ruey Estes and W.C. Wilbanks were the three post members elected to supervise the construction of the building. Mr. Estes was a master carpenter and given supervision of the project. The plan for the building had originally called for a 40×60-foot. building with two 8×14-foot restrooms and a 16×20-foot kitchen. It was to be built of pine logs, squared on three sides to give it the appearance of an 1800s log house. The inside walls were to be covered in plaster and a single native red marble fireplace was to be built.

Early in 1934 the government disbanded the C.W.A. Legion members then took up the job of building the hut and work continued. They made modifications to the original plan deciding to use split logs rather than three sided squared, the inside walls were covered in knotty pine instead of plaster, and a second chimney was added.

Since the completion of the building in 1934, the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary have met in the building monthly. The Disabled American Veterans chapter in Yellville also has monthly meetings in the hut. The building is also used by the Ladies Quilting Club and Boy Scouts of America. The Turkey Trot Festival, an annual event that draws national attention, was started by Legionnaires at the post.
SIGNIFICANCE

American Legion Hut #61 in Yellville, Arkansas, is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with local significance. It is being nominated under Criterion A for its association with the American Legion and the Civil Works Administration. It is also being nominated under Criterion C as the best example of Rustic style architecture in Yellville.
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mountain Echo, (Yellville), 16 December 1920.

Mountain Echo, (Yellville). 8 November 1933.

Mountain Echo, (Yellville). 15 November 1933.

Mountain Echo, (Yellville), 20 December 1933.



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