Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Bradley County Courthouse
Bradley County Courthouse

BRADLEY COUNTY COURTHOUSE AND COUNTY CLERK'S OFFICE, WARREN, BRADLEY COUNTY

ELABORATION

The largest number of architecturally significant public buildings in Arkansas are the courthouses scattered over the state’s 75 counties.  A structural symbol of American government, the county courthouse serves as the center of local political activity.  Often the largest and most costly building in the county, the courthouse is almost always a source of pride to the citizens who financed and make use of its facilities.
 
Bradley County, Arkansas, is situated in the southeastern part of the state.  The county covers 659 square miles and ranges from 102 feet to 300 feet above sea level.  The county's most southern point is only eight miles from the Arkansas-Louisiana border.  A wide centra1 forest land called the Prairie Terrace is found within the county's boundaries.
 
Captain Hugh Bradley, while with General Andrew Jackson at New Orleans, had learned of the Arkansas country.  In 1818 he and a few of his neighbors came up the Red River on an exploring expedition.  Around 1825 Captain Bradley and his company settled on the Saline River, just east of what is now Warren.
 
Bradley County, at the time of its formation December 18, 1840, comprised all of the territory now included in Cleveland, Lincoln, Ashley and Drew Counties.  The seat of government was established at the home of Captain Bradley with the first county court being held there on April 5, 1841.  In 1842, the town of Warren, named for Captain Bradley's slave, was laid out on a donated tract of land about forty acres in size.  In 1843, a courthouse was constructed on the same spot which is now used as the courthouse square.  This building was of log construction featuring a fireplace on either end.

By 1858 a new courthouse was needed to house the Bradley County government.  Contractors Sweeney, Copeland and Pennington were hired to construct a new courthouse.  Completed in 1862 at a cost of $7,498, the new building was a two-story brick structure covered in stucco.

The present Bradley County Courthouse, the third to be located on the site was constructed in 1903.  Architect Frank W. Gibb of Little Rock designed the building with E. L. Koonce as contractor.

The Bradley County Courthouse is an impressive two-story brick structure with towers.  Distinctive features of the building include brick quoins arched windows with keystones, gauged brick voussoirs, denticulated cornices, and the usage of two colors of brick.  A cut-stone water table extends around the entire building.  The most distinctive feature of the building is the clock tower located on the southwest corner.  The main body of the tower is two-and-one-half stories with a four-faced clock located atop.  Centered above the clock is a cupola featuring archways, denticulated cornice and a hexagonal roof.

Located directly east of the courthouse is a one-story brick building with a high-hipped roof.  Constructed in 1890 this structure functioned as a County Clerk's Office.  The building is now used as a library.

Constructed in 1903, the Bradley County Courthouse stands in the center of Warren's business district.  As the largest and most significant structure in the county, the courthouse is an architectural and historic landmark in Bradley County.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

A Survey of Arkansas Courthouses.  Compiled by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the State of Arkansas.  Mrs. W. G. McDonald, Chairperson, Historical Archives Committee.  Arkansas Room, Little Rock Public Library.

Arkansas Gazette.  January 6, 1941.

Goodspeed Publishing Company.  Biographical and Historic Memoirs of Southern Arkansas.  Chicago:  Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1890.

Works Progress Administration File.  Bradley County.  On file at Arkansas History Commission, Little Rock, Arkansas.