Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Reeves-Melson House
Reeves-Melson House

REEVES-MELSON HOUSE, BONNERDALE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY

ELABORATION

Located in the Ouachita Mountain region, Montgomery County had been sparsely settled since the 1830s.  The county's southeast section attracted little occupation until the mid-1870s.  However, with a fairly steady influx of homesteaders, the limited farmland surrounding the local waterways and in the narrow valleys was settled by the turn of the century.  During this time William Reeves, a former county sheriff, homesteaded eighty acres of land adjacent a small branch of the Mazarn Creek, one of two major waterways in the area.  The c.1882, 1888 Reeves-Melson House represents, locally, the strong traditional plan and construction methods commonly used in initial settlement periods throughout Arkansas in the nineteenth century.  As in the earlier years of settlement in the state, traditional house plans and construction methods continued to dominate the initial building environment of Arkansas's late nineteenth century settlement areas.  The house displays two important areas in the traditional building discipline.  The log single pen portion of the house reflects a popular settlement house type, while the present dogtrot typifies a practice of expanding a single pen into a two pen plan.  The use of two different building methods and materials easily distinguishes this method of expansion.

Built in two stages, the Reeves-Melson House illustrates a rural practice of adding onto an original single pen house.  C.1882, William Reeves built the initial single pen house.  Using pine logs locked with the half-dovetail notching, Reeves constructed an 18' x 16' structure.  Following a common technique, the logs were hewed on two sides for a flat exterior and interior wall surface.  Leaving the top and bottom of the logs in their natural state resulted in a smaller chink space between the logs.  Larkin Melson purchased the property in the winter of 1887.  Melson, a local carpenter, added the open central hall and the second pen to create the structure's present dogtrot plan.  He constructed the 18' x 16' frame and weatherboard pen using locally milled lumber.  The use of different building materials was a common practice in expanding the single pen into a two pen plan.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abstract for Floyd Miles, Abstract No. 4230, Montgomery County Abstract Company, Mount Ida, Arkansas.

Goodspeed, ed.  Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Western Arkansas.  Chicago:  The Southern Publishing Co., 1891 reprint ed., Easley, South Carolina:  Southern Historical Press, 1978.

State Land Office Original Entry Records.  (microfilm roll #25) Little Rock, Arkansas, Arkansas History Commission.

United States Census, Population Schedules, Montgomery County, Arkansas, 1870, 1880, 1900. (Microfilm) Little Rock, Arkansas:  Arkansas History Commission.