Prairie County Courthouse

Prairie County CourthouseDes Arc - Prairie
Main St.
Listed in National Register of Historic Places on 4/18/77

View PDF

The largest number of architecturally significant public buildings in Arkansas are the courthouses scattered over the State€۪s seventy-five 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.

Prairie County was formed in 1846 from part of Pulaski County. The first county seat was located at Brownsville (now a part of Lonoke County). In 1873 DeValls Bluff became county seat, and n 1875 an election moved the county seat to Des Arc. In 1877 DeValls Bluff became seat of justice for the southern part of the county and Des Arc for the northern part. Des Arc is now considered the main county seat.

Des Arc has had three courthouses. The first one was constructed in 1875 when the county seat was moved to Des Arc. In 1904 a new brown brick courthouse was constructed. A fire in 1911 razed the building and when the county rebuilt, the new courthouse was constructed of the same style and on the foundation of the 1904 structure.

The courthouse was designed by R. P. Morrison and constructed at a cost of $27,500. It was first occupied in 1913.

Very ornate in appearance, the courthouse combines elements of Georgian Revival and Romano-Tuscan architecture. Constructed of red brick, all the detail and decorative work is white.

The facade contains most of the architecturally significant features. A two-tiered portico with Tuscan columns is situated between projecting wings. Each wing is capped by pedimented gables. A dormer is centered on the hipped roof just behind the portico.

A square tower with brick piers at each corner caps the roof. A clock is located at the top of the tower with pairs of louvered windows under the clock and pairs of round-headed windows below the louvered windows.

In 1947 a new jail building was added to the rear elevation. The addition is a rectangular brick building with stair-step roof. All ground-floor openings have been infilled with brick, and the jail is accessible only through the courthouse.


Garth, Billy, (Prairie County Clerk) personal interview at Des Arc, Arkansas, January 15, 1976.

Prairie County Fact Sheet. On file at the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

Worley, Ted R., History of Des Arc, (Reprinted from the White River Journal, March 22, 1956), 1957.

Go Back