The Gann Building, the only bauxite building known to be in existence, was built in 1893 for the office of Dr. Dewell Gann, Sr. by patients who could not afford to pay for services he had rendered them. The soft stone used in the construction was dug from the ground of a farm nearby, sawn into blocks with a handsaw and allowed to harden for six weeks.
Dr. Gann, Sr., born March 31, 1859, in Atlanta, Georgia, graduated from Emory University in 1886. After studying in New York briefly, he came west to Sheridan, Arkansas, where he began the practice of medicine with B. W. Mason. In 1889 he married Martha Harding Whitthorne. The following year the couple moved to Benton, Arkansas. After establishing a successful medical practice in Benton, Dr. Gann helped to organize the first Saline County Medical society.
On September 14, 1890, Dr. Dewell Gann's only son, Dewell Gann, Jr., was born. Following his father's profession he graduated from Indiana University in 1913 with his medical doctorate degree. He then returned to Arkansas to join his father's practice. An extremely learned man, Dr. Gann, Sr. introduced the therapeutic use of radium into Arkansas in 1916. From 1919 until 1924 he was attending surgeon at Little Rock General Hospital. During this time he invented a new resuscitator which helped to restore circulation as well as respiration in asphyxia or drowning. In 1925 he was chosen Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. This honor had been given to less than ten men in the entire United States at the time it was presented to Dr. Gann, Jr.
In 1946 the Gann Office was given to the City of Benton to be used as a library. At this time an addition was built onto the rear of the building and shelving was installed for the books. The building remained a library until 1967 when a larger facility was obtained. At this time the building was designated by the city to be used as a museum for the City of Benton and for Saline County.
Arkansas Democrat (Little Rock), September 25, 1945.
Bearden, Mildred. “History of the Gann Memorial Library and Building” (Research
Paper). March 25, 1962.
Benton Courier. September 27, 1945.
Benton Courier. January 14, 1960.