Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Mullins Court
Mullins Court

MULLINS COURT, TEXARKANA, MILLER COUNTY

SUMMARY

Mullins Court, located at 605 Hickory Street in Texarkana, Miller County, Arkansas, is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion C as an excellent example of Colonial Revival architecture.  The area of town where the apartment building is located is known as Quality Hill, and is characterized by the numerous two- and three-story homes and large churches dating from the 1890s to 1920s.  The homes and churches in this district display a variety of styles and types of architectural ornamentation popular during this era. 

Mullins Court is one of the more modern building in the district, built in 1928 by the architecture firm of Witt, Seibert and Halsey, and is the first building in Texarkana designed in the Colonial Revival style.  The building has a wonderful history and was home to some of the most prominent Texarkana citizens.

ELABORATION

The apartment building was named after the Francis William Mullins family.  Mullins and his family came to Texarkana before 1884.  Francis was married to Mary Frances Mullins and they had two children, William Eugene and Frances. The 1899-1900 city directory shows that the Mullins family lived at 119 Sixth St., and notes that Mr. Mullins established the Texas Produce Company shortly after he and his family moved to the area.

Two of Francis’ siblings, both brothers, moved to Arkansas from Tennessee at the same time as he, those brothers being Thomas S. Mullins and James H. Mullins.  Thomas settled in Texarkana, and owned and operated T.S. Mullins & Company, a dry goods store.  James moved to Izard County, where he was a successful farmer, owning 250 acres of land, with about 125 of those acres under cultivation. 

As mentioned above, Francis established the Texas Produce Company in 1884, shortly after arriving in Texarkana.  The Texas Produce Company was a wholesale produce and grocery business, and the very first in the city.  The building that originally housed his business was built circa 1900, in the Romanesque Revival style, and is NR-listed (06/14/1990). 

Francis served as the Mayor of Texarkana, from 1896 to 1900.

By 1910 Francis W. Mullins was listed as president of Texas Produce Company and Thomas S. Mullins was listed as secretary-treasurer of the same entity. By this time, Francis had also moved his family from 6th Street to 605 Hickory Street—the address of Mullins Court. The 1920 city directory notes that Francis William had died (he died in 1917), leaving Mary Frances to raise two children by herself. Their daughter, Frances, was listed as a student in 1910, and her brother, William Eugene, was not listed with either a student or occupational status.

Mary Frances, Frances, and William Eugene remained at 605 Hickory St. through 1928. At that time, William E. was working for Martin Insurance Agency and was helping support his mother and sister, who was still a single woman. Between the 1928 and 1929 city directories, the apartment house, Mullins Court, was built on this block. The large building took up nearly one-fourth of Block 22 of the Original City.

Built in the Colonial Revival style, Mullins Court exemplifies the style with its symmetry; accentuated front elevation entry doors; multi-paned windows grouped in pairs or threes; its two-story height; bricked exterior façade; the original design which featured paneled doors with sidelights and topped with rectangular transoms; the center entry-hall floor plan featured in each leg of the building plan; and fireplaces. 

Mullins Court is the first building in Texarkana designed in the Colonial Revival style. 

Colonial Revival became a standard style in the 20th century, and the style became popular for American residential properties after it first appeared at the 1876 the US Centennial Exposition. Reflecting American patriotism and a desire for simplicity, the Colonial Revival style remained popular until the mid-1950's. Between World War I and II, Colonial Revival was the most popular historic revival house style in the United States. 

Some architectural historians say that Colonial Revival is a Victorian style; others believe that the Colonial Revival style marked the end of the Victorian period in architecture. The Colonial Revival style is based loosely on Federal and Georgian house styles, and a clear reaction against excessively elaborate Victorian Queen Anne architecture. Eventually, the simple, symmetrical Colonial Revival style became incorporated into the Foursquare and Bungalow house styles of the early 20th century.

In 1929, Mullins Court housed 12 apartments.  Mary Frances, who may have been the landlady for the apartment house, lived in Apartment 5.  By this time, her two children had moved away.  Other 1929 tenants of the apartment house were: (Apartment 1) Herbert M. Barney and his wife, Florence; Dr. Albert H. Mann and his wife Katherine (or Kathleen); (Apartment 12) William A. Drum and his wife Mabel M.; David D. Bruton and his wife Harriett; (Apartment 7) Grover Milford and his wife Lina; Jack C. Anderson; Lutie McCuen, widow of Charles F. McCuen, and her daughter, Grace McCuen; W. Earl Buchanan and his wife Anna; and Fred Canender. The tenants included an attorney, physician, manager of Southwestern Adjustment Company, and a traveling salesman for Buhrman-Pharr, among others.

Mullins Court must have been a fashionable place to live through its early years judging from the successful people who called the apartment building their home. In 1931, Mrs. Mullins’ children had moved back into her apartment. The Barney’s were still in Apartment 1, the Drums were in Apartment No. 12; and the Milfords were in Apartment No. 7. New tenants included Dr. George W. Parsons, an internal medicine physician; Dr. Louis P. Good, one of Southern Clinic’s surgeons, and his wife Dorothy M.; and Roy M. Sawyer. In 1931, five apartments were listed as vacant.

According to the 1940 city directory, a great deal of change had occurred in the tenant population at Mullins Court. Mrs. Mullins was the only resident who remained in her original apartment from the time the apartments opened in 1929. Henry Hirsch, his wife, Jean, and their child lived in Apartment 1; Ralph P. Jackson and his wife, Eleanor, lived in Apartment 2 (Jackson was vice president of The Wood Preserving Corporation); Robert C. Todd, his wife, Beatrice, and their child lived in Apartment 3 (Todd was a salesman); Louise S. Holman, a music teacher and widow of Hampton W. Holman, lived in Apartment 4; Mrs. Mullins was in Apartment 5; A. King Wheeler, his wife, Helen B., and their child lived in Apartment 6 (Wheeler was the manager of the Sears, Roebuck & Company store); Samuel L. Mills and his wife, Julia B., lived in Apartment 8 (Mills was the manager of The Borden Company); George D. Kelley, his wife, Lucille, and their son, George D. Kelley Jr., lived in Apartment 10; Katherine (or Kathleen) Mann, widow of Dr. R.H.T. Mann now lived in Apartment 11; and Henry C. Crim and his wife, Mae, lived in Apartment 12 (Crim was the manager of Fire Companies Adjustment Bureau Inc.). Apartments No. 7 and 9 were vacant in 1940.

In 1943, Mrs. Mullins had moved to 706 Connella St. in Texarkana and was no longer living in Mullins Court. It is not known whether she sold the building, or simply moved to a new address. The Hirsch, Holman, and Mann families remained in Mullins Court and the new tenants in 1943 were James L. Myers
and his wife Ethel B.; Frank O.J. Myers and his wife Geraldine; Kenneth E. Everheart, his wife Elizabeth T., and their child; Albert C. Sterling and his wife Gertrude H.; Mrs. Theresa Basgall, widow of L.J. Basgall, and her child; Charles L. Shaw and his wife Velma B.; Maurine Tennison and her child; and William C. Jacobs, his wife Gathyle B., and their child. Hirsch was a real estate agent, James Myers was an inspector with the U.S. Post Office, Frank Myers was general manager of KCMC Radio Station, Holman was a music teacher, Everheart was a salesman, Basgall was an office worker with Red River Ordinance Depot, Shaw was a contractor, and Jacobs was division freight and passenger agent for the MoPac Railroad.

New residents in 1945 included Herbert M. Barney and his wife Florence E., both of whom worked for Barney & Quinn Law Office; Mrs. Fay Free, widow of James Free, a secretary; Mannie A. Stevens, a general insurance agent; William A. Reynolds, a salesman, his wife Annette, and their child; Thomas J. Wolfe and his wife Frances; Clint A. Wortham, manager of the Butter Nut Bread Company, his wife Bertha, and their son Clinton D. Wortham; and Estelle L. Winham, widow of Milton Winham. Only Apartment 5, formerly Mrs. Mullin’s apartment, remained vacant in 1945.

The tenant list in 1950 retained the Hirsch, Frank Myers, Holman, Free, Stevens, and Winham names. New tenants included Mary A. Magee; Leon P. Kuhn and his wife, Jeanelle B.; Corinne E. Turner; Ida C. White, widow of Loftin E. White; and Wiley M. Pafford and his wife, Eve C.  Kuhn was president of Kuhn Distributor Inc., the local distributor for Stag, Falstaff, and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beers. Pafford was president of Pafford Distribution Co. Inc. Only Apartment 8 was listed as vacant in 1950.

New tenants in 1955 included Ronald J. Malecki and his wife, Betty; Helen O. Budd, widow of Roy Budd; Louise G. Sullivan, who was affiliated with Texarkana Iron & Metal Co.; and JoAnne O’Dwyer. Apartment 12 was vacant in 1955.

The character of the tenant population had totally changed by 1960.  Most of the tenants living in Mullins Court at this time were widows, with the widows Budd, Magee, Winham, Holman, Tennison, Turner, Sullivan, and O’Dwyer being the original tenants from all those who had gone before. Apartments 5, 7, 8, and 12 were vacant in 1960.  Most of these women mentioned above were older than 50 years of age.

The 1965 city directory shows that Mullins Court was undergoing interior physical changes. Apartment 5 was no longer listed separately, and may have become part of the Holman or Swaidner apartments. The widows in the apartment building were joined by Henry B. Holman, son of Louise S. Holman (who had moved away, or died); William R. Swaidner and his wife, Hortense R., both retired, had moved into Apartment 6; Mary Lanier, widow of L.H. Lanier, had moved into Apartment 7; and Herbert B. Wren and his wife, Helen, were living in Apartment 8. Wren was a distributor with American Oil Company, located 808 E. Broad Street, Texarkana.  Apartments 10 and 12 were listed as vacant.

By 1970, additional interior physical changes had occurred. There was no Apartment 3, but Apartment 5 had reappeared. Additionally, the tenants had shifted around. Mary Lanier was in Apartment 1; Mary A. Magee was in Apartment 2; Eula Melton was in Apartment 4; Henry Holman in Apartment 5; William R. Swaidner was in Apartment 6; Apartment 7 was vacant; Roy H. Booth and his wife, Helen M., both retired, were in Apartment 8; Corinne E. Turner was in Apartment 9; Paula S. Wilson, a teacher at Union Elementary, was in Apartment 10; JoAnne O’Dwyer was in Apartment 11; and Ed. W. Bales and his wife, Nelle C., were in Apartment 12.

New tenants in 1975 included Mina Ezell, an employee of F.W. Offenhauser Insurance Co.; Wayne C. Aydelott, a mole puller with Dickey Clay Manufacturing, and his wife, Cecile; Denis Mahr, a salesman for Ted Mahr at Anderson Chemical Co.; and Doris McKinzey, a nurse at Wadley Hospital. The widows Magee, Swaidner, Turner, O’Dwyer, and Bales remained.

By 1980, the widows were either dying or moving into healthcare facilities. Only Corinne Turner, JoAnne O’Dwyer, and Mary Magee remained. Mullins Court featured 11 apartments at this point, occupied by Phyllis Coker; Mary A. Magee; C.R. Ray and his wife, Bonelle; Danny Leach and his wife, Beverly; Marie Stubblefield; Rick Comer; Robert Worthington and his wife, Pamela; Corinne Turner; Linda White, a teller with State First National Bank; JoAnne O’Dwyer; and Fred Dice.

Five of the 11 apartments were vacant in 1985. Remaining tenants included Ron Paul, in Apartment 1; Mary A. Magee, in Apartment 2; Theo. B. Milkey, Jr., retired, in Apartment 3; Bonnelle Ray, in Apartment 4; Richard Davis, a salesman for Sound Towne Inc., in Apartment 6; David Miller, an employee of International Paper, in Apartment 8; and JoAnne O’Dwyer, in Apartment 11.

By 1990, Mullins Court was about half full; however, the tenancy had changed a great deal. Apartments 1, 2, 8, 9, and 11 were vacant. One will recall these were the apartments of many of the widows who had been here for a long time. Remaining residents included Ted R. Milkey, Jr.; Troy Skeesick and Tony L., who was an electronics technician for Easy Rental Stores; Terra Ferguson, a stylist at Reeda’s Hair Styling; Houchin (no other information given); Platz (no other information given); Bob Turk and his wife, Mary, who was assistant manager for Roadrunner; and Jonathan Treasdell.

Tenancy became more and more transient as Mullins Court building deteriorated with age. Individual apartments once housed families, then widows, and now it seemed the tenants were younger people. In 1995, tenants included Bill Grace; James Griffin, a lieutenant with Pinkerton Investigations; Kerry Griffin and his wife; Joseph Spearman; Shannon Stovall; Dawn Glaze; Fred Rook; Kelly Norwood; and Sharron Martin.

The end of an era was in sight in 1999, when the building’s only tenants were Jason R. Gallagher, and Precision Graphics, a business owned by Jennifer M. Schaefer.  Mullins Court was listed in the 2001 city directory, but no tenants were listed.  Obviously, the building must have been vacant at that point. It has remained vacant and deteriorating since the late 1990s.

Bethany and Trent Hanna bought the dilapidated building in 2006, forming Mullins Court, LLC.  The corporation is currently renovating and restoring Mullins Court to its former glory, and hopes to have the southeast leg open and ready to rent by January 2007, with the remainder of the building completely renovated and ready to rent by the end of 2007.

SIGNIFICANCE

Located at 605 Hickory Street in Texarkana, Miller County, Arkansas, Mullins Court is located in the locally-designated Quality Hill District.  The surrounding properties in this district are primarily in the Queen Anne style, having been built decades before the property.  Mullins Court is one of the more modern buildings in the district, built in 1928 by the architecture firm of Witt, Seibert and Halsey, and is the first building in Texarkana designed in the Colonial Revival style.  The building has a wonderful history and was home to some of the most prominent Texarkana citizens.  As such, Mullins Court is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion C as an excellent example of Colonial Revival architecture. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Job Log of Witt, Seibert and Hallsey on file with the Texarkana Museums System.

Rowe, Dr. Beverly. Building MemoriesTexarkana Gazette. April 16, 2006.

Story, Kenneth B.  “Ritchie Grocery Building, Texarkana, Miller County, Arkansas.”  National Register of Historic Places Registration Form.  From the files of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, AR, 1990.

Texarkana City Directories.

http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/ar/izard/bios/mullnsjh.txt