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Washington County Courthouse’s Mysterious Belfry

Washington County Courthouse, Greenville, Miss., built 1890-91, is pictured here around 1900. The bell tower was most likely reduced in the early 1930s. Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Last year, I heard an odd story: the Washington County Courthouse’s belfry tower was originally a “hanging tower” used to hang convicted criminals. The sources were adamant but could only say they had heard it from others.

My first instinct was this was recent bunk history–people seeing an unfamiliar and altered architectural feature and drawing a wild conclusion. For a building built in 1891, this is not ancient history. If the courthouse’s tower was really a “hanging tower”–a gruesome public spectacle–there should be amble written evidence.

After researching the problem, my initial instincts proved to be correct. Newspapers from the early 20th century describe executions in the yard of the county jail behind the courthouse….and NOT in the courthouse itself. However, I was a little surprised to find one source that did describe an execution in the tower. I’ll examine that later, but first some background on the courthouse and jail

In January 1890, the Mississippi Legislature authorized the Washington County Board of Supervisors to issue bonds, not to exceed $100,000, to build a new courthouse and jail. In July, the Board selected plans for a courthouse prepared by the McDonald Brothers of Louisville, Kentucky. Meanwhile, the Board selected jail plans submitted by L. T. Noyes, an “agent for the Diebold Safe and Lock Company” (Board of Supervisor Minutes, July 12, 1890). Initially, Charles Dollman of Memphis was selected to build the courthouse and John F. Barnes of Greenville to construct the jail. Barnes would ultimately build both.

The McDonald Brothers’ plans called for an 80 x 100 foot, two-story high building including “a tower about 180 feet high with an open bell niche” (Greenville Times, July 19, 1890). We now call the courthouse’s architecture, popularized by Henry Hobson Richardson, Richardsonian Romanesque. Washington County’s courthouse is one of only two in this style in Mississippi. It also has a striking resemblance to another McDonald Brothers’ project, the 1888 Washington County Courthouse in Salem, Indiana. Today, the courthouse still has an impressive tower, but the bell niche or belfry was likely removed in 1930 when Jackson, Mississipi architect James M. Spain remodeled the building.

Washington County’s Courthouse, ca 1940, with the tower lowered and belfry removed. Unseen is the 1891 jail behind the building. Lakeport Plantation Collection.

Added to the National Register in 2014, the Washington County Courthouse is impressive public architecture to be marveled over. In contrast, the 1891 jail is, at most, an afterthought. The jail appears in Sanborn maps, but 20th-century images of the courthouse give no indication of a jail lurking behind it. [Note: there are at least two 1890s images that show the jail, they are published in Washington County, Mississippi]. In 1950, a new jail was constructed north of the 1930 Annex and, it seems, the original jail was erased from the public’s imagination.

This brings me to a 1990 article published in the Delta Democrat-Times. The article celebrates the 100th anniversary of the courthouse and coaxes the building to tell its stories through oral histories housed at the Percy Library. The author tells us several of the interviews “spoke of hangings at the Courthouse,” but “they were not viewed by the public.” However, the author cites a 1977 interview with Lille B. Parker that does mention a hanging in the courthouse. Parker attended the execution of Eddie B. Weeks on the morning of May 12, 1932 and believed it to be the last in Washington County. “They hung him down where the Court House is at, up there where a big old clock used to be,” she stated in the interview. She continued, “they was boards up there, two by fours or something—you could see it a long time. They done tore it down now.”

Washington County Courthouse and Jail, 1905 Sanborn Map, Sheet 17

Not to disparage Mrs. Parker and her memory, but her account is not supported by the written accounts of Weeks’ execution in 1932.

The DDT on May 10, 1932 wrote, “The gallows have been completed for several weeks and are located in the rear of the Washington County jail.” Two days later the paper reported, “Eddie B. Weeks…was hanged at Washington county jail here this morning…” Weeks walked “from his cell to the rear door of the county jail and ascend[ed] the stairs to the enclosed gallows that were to take him to his death….Near a thousand members of Weeks[‘] race gathered around the jail yard on all sides.”

Parker’s memory is also in conflict with a 1978 interview not mentioned in the 1990 DDT article. Leonard Brown is a solid source. He was born in 1896 and, according to the U. S. Census, was a janitor at the courthouse in 1930. In the interview, Brown recalled his duties as a cook, groundskeeper, and transporting prisoners to Jackson. When asked about hangings at the jail, he described what is most likely the 1932 execution of Weeks:

“Well, I never witnessed but one…they built a scaffold right out in the corner of the jail…the day of the hanging we wanted to go in where we could see it, but they wouldn’t let us go in. We had to stand out…we could see that afterwards…”

Earlier accounts in the Greenville Times support Brown’s memory of executions at gallows constructed in the now forgotten jail yard:

  • 1907 — private hanging — “took place in an enclosure on the west side of the county jail” — Greenville Times, Feb 16, 1907
  • 1908 — public hanging — “paid the penalty for his brutal crime on the gallows at the county jail” — Greenville Times, Feb 23, 1908
  • 1909 — public hanging — “paid the penalty with his life on the gallows…He was led onto the scaffold in the jail yard….” Greenville Times., August 21, 1909

The primary sources clearly debunk the story of the “hanging tower” at the 1891 Washington County Courthouse. While it is debunked, the story very likely has more depth than I initially anticipated. The rumors, perhaps, came to life in 1932 as Weeks’ execution intersected with the courthouse’s remodel. Accounts of the 1930 remodel by architect J. M. Spain don’t specifically mention work on the tower, however, the DDT, Dec 27, 1929, stated, “the upper floor would be repaired [and] new plans will take in the upper floor of the structure.”  Mrs. Parker’s recollection seems to mention work being done on the tower in 1932: “they was boards up there, two by fours or something—you could see it a long time. They done tore it down now.”

Mrs. Parker was one of nearly a “thousand people” gathered at the courthouse and jail that morning. Many of them, unable to see the jail yard execution in the enclosed gallows, looked up at the boxed-in tower and assumed the execution was taking place in that public, yet obfuscated spot. With the original jail replaced in 1950 and the yard paved over, the only place for people to attach memories and stories of the 1932 hanging is the mysterious and altered tower.

While people love a mystery or “hidden secrets,” there is no good reason to keep telling the story of the “hanging tower.” It is just not true nor does it lead to deeper understanding of the history of the courthouse or Greenville. Primary sources like newspapers, oral histories, and county records tell us legal hangings in Washington County, from the early 1900s through 1932, took place in gallows constructed in the jail yard behind the Washington County Courthouse.

The real mystery:

The real mystery is when exactly was the belfry removed. For such a public building, it is strange that historians and preservationists have not been able to pin down the exact date when the tower was lowered. Bill Gatlin’s 2014 National Register nomination states: “The tower was reduced from its original height in the 1930s, presumably during a renovation project led by architect James. M. Spain.” Local historian, Princella Nowell, makes the same case in an article published in Life in the Delta: [J. M. Spain’s] improvements [in 1930] included plumbing, heating and wiring. He may have been responsible for removing the bell tower.”

This 1927 flood photograph shows the Washington Courthouse’s tower still intact (left-hand corner). Courtesy of Princella W. Nowell.

The lowering of the tower can be narrowed down to around 1930 when Spain led a renovation of the courthouse. Nowell has confirmed the tower was still intact in 1927, as one photograph from the 1927 flood shows. Newspaper reports of Spain’s 1930 renovations of the courthouse and the Board of Supervisors records are vague, but a 1929 article in the DDT (cited above) mentions the work “will take in the upper floor of the structure.” Mrs. Parker’s 1977 recollection of the events in May 1932 speaks of the tower being boarded up. Finally, photo postcards ca 1940 show the courthouse’s tower reduced.

It’s hard to believe that a major alteration to such a public building went unnoticed and largely uncommented upon. If you know of primary sources that mentions or shows a change to Washington County Courthouse’s tower, send an email to


Brown, Leonard. Oral History Interview, September 20, 1978, Special Collections, Percy Library, Washington County Library System [also online at MDAH].

The Daily Democrat-Times, December 27, 1929; May 10, 12 1932.

Greenville Times, February 22, July 19, 1890; February 16, 1907; February 23, 1908; August 21, 1909.

Hall, Russell S., Princella W. Nowell, and Stacy Childress. Washington County, Mississippi. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2000.

Nowell, Princella W. Email and phone communications, April 17, 2017-February 26, 2018.

Nowell, Princella W. “Old Courthouses,” Life in the Delta [emailed to the author, February 7, 2018].

Ingram, Deborah, “If walls could only talk … Courthouse could share tales,” The Delta Democrat-Times, May 8, 1990, in “Courts,” Vertical File, Percy Library, Washington County Library System.

Parker, Lillie Belle. Oral History Interview, February 18, 1977, Special Collections, Percy Library, Washington County Library System [also online at MDAH].

Washington County Board of Supervisor Minutes, Book 4.

More pictures of the Washington County Courthouse at the turn of the century from Ann Rayburn Paper Americana Collection Postcards, Special Collections, University of Mississippi:

Special thanks to Princella Nowell, Clinton Bagley, Bill Gatlin, Benjy Nelken, and the staff at the Percy Library for their help.

Blake Wintory
Lakeport Plantation

2017: Lakeport’s 10th Year

For Lakeport’s 10th Anniversary, supporters, Johnson descendants, and authors gathered on Labor Day Weekend.

Since opening in September 2007, Lakeport has become a unique, off-the-beaten-path destination in southeast Arkansas. Tourists bisecting the country or traveling the Great River Road always keep us busy, but we also held a number of events (big and small) in 2017.

On Labor Day Weekend, we commemorated our 10th Anniversary with Lakeport supporters and Johnson family from Canada and the across the U.S. The two-day event was filled with local food and authors who have written about the Johnsons. The authors included Dr. Christina Snyder, Dr. Tom DeBlack, Dr. Blake Wintory, Rex Nelson, and Mike Jordan.

Earlier in the year, Lakeport partnered with Preserve Arkansas for the Behind the Big House. The two-day workshop explored extant slave dwellings and explored ways to interpret the experiences of the enslaved people who inhabited them. The event featured Joseph McGill, an African-American preservationist and founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, and included living history performances, a historic cooking demonstration, and presentations by McGill, Jerome Bias, Angela Walton-Raji, Dr. Blake Wintory, and Dr. Jodi Skipper.

Lakeport continues to host smaller events as well. In 2017, we hosted a book signing with Mike Jordan, author of The Freedom Song (historical fiction about Lakeport) and seven Lakeport Legacies. Our speakers presented on topics like the Civil War in the Delta, African American fraternal organizations, the Delta Chinese Heritage Museum, and the Delta plantations related to Lakeport.

We have also added to local history by publishing on Lakeport’s blog. Here are some posts you might have missed over the past year:

Adolph Meyer Arrives at Grand Lake in 1867 (January 2017)
April 21, 1927 [1927 Flood] (April 21, 2017)
Greenville, Mississippi’s City and Telephone Directories (June 2017)
Greenville’s Elks’ Lodge (October 2017)

This past year, we had a great start on the Lakeport Pillars, our friends’ group and museum membership program. The Lakeport Pillars is an important way you can help support research, outreach, and events at the Lakeport Plantation. Your contribution is tax deductible.

If you are local, consider volunteering some of your time at Lakeport. There is no better way to learn history than by engaging with it through tours and research.

Greenville’s Elk’s Lodge

Greenville’s Elk’s Lodge, in the city’s downtown, was completed in late 1906 or early 1907. Once a mainstay of the city’s social scene, today it is facing destruction for a downtown “greenspace” (i.e. empty space).

Built for the local “Cotton Pickers” lodge of Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the two-story, Greek Revival, concrete building was almost complete in August 1906, when the newspaper reported it “is one of the prettiest club rooms anywhere.”

Designated a Mississippi Landmark in 2002, the building is also a contributing structure to the National Register Greenville Commercial District. Contributing resources adds to the historic significance of a district. Despite this significance, the city seems set on a new “greenspace” to replace the Steinmart Square that has been designated for a new downtown Federal courthouse. Smart downtown greenspaces are nice in thriving urban area, but destroying an iconic building in Greenville’s struggling downtown isn’t. It will leave a hole in the historic downtown corridor where there was once a majestic 100+-year-old building. The city’s decision is also troubling given the fact that an out-of-town developer, Joshua Cain, has expressed interest in restoring the building into a boutique hotel. Cain has a proven track record in California and with the 1857 Belmont Plantation at Wayside. Ignoring a potential investment and creating an empty space in Greenville’s downtown is obviously a lose-lose situation for the city.

Sources and Resources:

MDAH Historic Resources Inventory Fact Sheet for Elks Club

Mississippi 10 Most Endangered List 2003

MissPres News Roundup 9-26-2017

MissPres News Roundup 10-3-2017

Suzassippi’s Mississippi: The “Cotton Pickers” B. P. O. Elks Lodge

“New Members for Elk’s Lodge,” Greenville Weekly Democrat, August 16, 1906

Lakeport Plantation to Feature Polk Family Plantations for Lakeport Legacies

George W. Polk, a Chicot County planter, completed his home, Rattle & Snap, near Columbia, Maury County, TN in 1845. Courtesy Library of Congress

Lakeport Plantation to Feature Polk Family Plantations


LAKE VILLAGE — “The Polks’ Plantations and the Creation of Cotton Kingdom in the Old South” will be presented by Dr. Kelly Houston Jones in the latest Lakeport Legacies monthly history talk on September 28 at the Lakeport Plantation, 601 Hwy 142, in Lake Village.

The event gets underway at 5:30 p.m. with refreshments and conversation, and the program starts at 6 p.m. The program is free and open to the public. For more information and to Register, contact Dr. Blake Wintory at 870-265-6031.

Jones will discuss her research on the Polk family’s extensive cotton plantations across Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The prominent family moved at the center of the historical processes that created King Cotton in the newest parts of the Old South. James K. Polk himself invested in cotton, while his relatives ran cotton plantations in the Mississippi Delta. The Polks’ and their business network represent patterns of cotton investment that characterized the late 1840s and early 1850s and built the slave empire of the Old Southwest.

James K. Polk, who served as president from 1845 to 1849, purchased a plantation in Yalobusha County, Mississippi in 1834. A nephew, William Wilson Polk, owned a large plantation at Walnut Bend in Phillips County, Arkansas and financed his uncle’s presidential run. George W. Polk, a cousin of President James K. Polk, co-owned the Hilliard Plantation on Grand Lake in Chicot County. Polk with his brother-in-law, Isaac Hilliard, owned 151 slaves and 550 acres of improved land in 1850.  In 1845, he built a magnificent Greek Revival home near Columbia, TN he named “Rattle and Snap.”

Dr. Jones is an Assistant Professor of History at Austin Peay State University specializing in the history of slavery. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in 2014. Her most recent work will appear later this year in Bullets and Fire: Lynching and Authority in Arkansas, 1840-1950, edited by Guy Lancaster.

Lakeport Legacies is a monthly history talk held on the last Thursday at the Lakeport Plantation during the spring and summer. Each month a topic from the Delta region is featured. The Lakeport Plantation is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site. Constructed in 1859, Lakeport is one of Arkansas’s premier historic structures and still retains many of its original finishes and architectural details.

Open to the public since 2007, Lakeport researches and interprets the people and cultures that shaped plantation life in the Mississippi River Delta, focusing on the Antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction Periods.

Arkansas Heritage Sites at Arkansas State University develops and operates historic properties of regional and national significance in the Arkansas Delta. A-State’s Heritage Sites include the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, Lakeport Plantation, the Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash, and the Arkansas State University Museum.


Attached image: George W. Polk, a Chicot County planter, completed his home, Rattle & Snap, near Columbia, Maury County, TN in 1845.  Courtesy Library of Congress


Press Contact:

Blake Wintory


Lakeport Legacies · Ironclads, Cotton & Corn: The Civil War in the Mississippi Delta · Jim Woodrick (Mississippi Department of Archives & History)

Ironclads, Cotton & Corn: The Civil War in the Mississippi Delta

presented by

Jim Woodrick (Mississippi Department of Archives & History) 

Thursday, July 27

Refreshments & Conversation @ 5:30 pm
Program @ 6:00 pm

“Seizure and Handling of Cotton in the Southwest.” Harper’s Weekly (May 2, 1863), documented the confiscation of cotton hidden at American Bend near the Worthington Plantation by Union troops. According to the paper, “three thousand bales” were “pledged to the British Government at seven cents per pound.”

Many Civil War historians have treated the Mississippi Delta region as a sideshow to more significant campaigns in the east. However, the Delta’s plantations supplied Union forces, witnessed some of the first ironclad battles of the Civil War, and the emancipation of thousands of slaves. Historian Jim Woodrick will explore how the Delta was vital to Confederate interests and was the target of repeated Union attempts to utilize the region’s waterways as an avenue of invasion.

Jim Woodrick, a native of Meridian, Mississippi, serves as Director of the Historic Preservation Division at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, where he worked for a number of years as the Civil War Sites Historian. In that capacity, he managed the Mississippi Civil War Trails program, participated in a number of battlefield and campaign studies with the National Park Service, and worked closely with the Civil War Trust and the American Battlefield Protection Program to identify Civil War battlefield properties in Mississippi for acquisition and preservation. He is a graduate of Millsaps College in Jackson and the author of The Civil War Siege of Jackson Mississippi, published by The History Press (2016).

Signed copies of Woodrick’s book, The Civil War Siege of Jackson Mississippi, will be available for purchase — $24.00 (includes tax, cash or check only, please). 

Register for this FREE Event
(by phone, email or online)
870.265.6031 ·

601 Hwy 142 · Lake Village, AR 71653

Lakeport Legacies · A Case Study in Diversity: Southeast Arkansas Legislators, 1868-Jim Crow · Rodney Harris (University of Arkansas)

A Case Study in Diversity: Southeast Arkansas Legislators, 1868-Jim Crow

presented by

Rodney Harris (University of Arkansas and Williams Baptist College) 

Thursday, June 29

Refreshments & Conversation @ 5:30 pm
Program @ 6:00 pm

William H. Grey (left) and James T. White (right) superimposed on an 1873 roster of Arkansas State Senators. Grey, born free in Washington, D.C., came to Helena in 1865. He served in the 1868 Arkansas State Constitutional Convention and as a representative in the Arkansas House in 1869. James T. White, native of Indiana, represented Phillips County in the Arkansas House in 1868 and the Senate in 1871 and 1873.

During Reconstruction (1867-1874), Republicans, including the first African American office holders, controlled most political positions in Arkansas. Many people assume that African American office holding ended with Democrats’ political “Redemption” in 1874. Despite Redemption, office holding on the local and legislative level remained quite diverse until 1893. Southeast Arkansas continued to elect Republicans, both black and white, along with Democrats at the county level and to the general assembly. This electoral diversity makes Southeast Arkansas unique and worthy of further examination.


Rodney holds a B.A. in Political Science from Arkansas State University, and a M.A. in History from the University of Central Arkansas. Rodney spent 10 years as a real estate broker, ran for State Representative in 2004, and was named one of the 25 Outstanding Young Executives in Northeast Arkansas.  Rodney wrote his Dissertation, “Divided Saints: Democratic Factions in the 1874 Arkansas Constitutional Convention” under the direction of Dr. Patrick Williams at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Rodney specializes in Political History and Southern History. He will join the faculty at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas this fall.


RSVP to this FREE Event
(by phone, email or online)
870.265.6031 ·

601 Hwy 142 · Lake Village, AR 71653


Lakeport Legacies · From Mosaic Templars to Royal Circle of Friends: Identifying Arkansas’s African American Fraternal Headstones

From Mosaic Templars to Royal Circle of Friends: Identifying Arkansas’s African American Fraternal Headstones

presented by

Dr. Blake Wintory (Lakeport Plantation) 

Thursday, May 25

Refreshments & Conversation @ 5:30 pm
Program @ 6:00 pm

Organizations like the Knights and Daughters of Tabor (above), Mosaic Templars, and Supreme Royal Circle of Friends issued standard monuments to deceased members.

Arkansas’s African American cemeteries are dotted with monuments from fraternal organizations founded in late 19th and early 20th centuries. Membership was often social, but also came with desirable sickness and death benefits. Several Arkansas-based fraternal organizations, like the Mosaic Templars, Supreme Royal Circle of Friends, and Knights and Daughters of Tabor, provided standardized monuments as part of their benefits.

In this presentation you will learn about the rise and decline of these organizations and see examples African American fraternal monuments throughout Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta.


RSVP to this FREE Event
(by phone, email or online)
870.265.6031 ·

601 Hwy 142 · Lake Village, AR 71653

Summer Hour at Lakeport 2017 — Extra Saturday Hours

In addition to Lakeport’s regular weekday schedule, Lakeport will add Saturday hours (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) from May 20 until July 29.

Summer Hours 2017
May 20 – July 29
Monday-Friday Tours 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Tours begin on the hour at the Lakeport Education Center.

Open Saturdays to visitors 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Last tour will start at 2 p.m.)
Closed Sundays
Closed Memorial Day, Monday, May 29
Closed Independence Day, Tuesday, July 4


Lakeport Plantation is open year round; summer hours add extra Saturday tours to our regular Monday through Friday schedule.

For group tours and other questions, please call us 870.265.6031.

Press Release Lakeport Plantation releases schedule for 2017 Lakeport Legacies and Information on March 30 Talk

For immediate release 3/13/2017


The Lakeport Plantation is pleased to announce its 2017 schedule for Lakeport Legacies, a monthly history talk focusing on history in the Delta. Speakers this year will discuss a wide-range of Delta topics including, a history of one of Arkansas’s oldest African American churches, the Civil War in the Mississippi Delta, and a look at the Polk family’s plantations and investments from Tennessee to the Delta. Lakeport Legacies meets on the last Thursday from March through October at 5:30 p.m. The program will begin at 6:00 p.m. Note exceptions in the schedule. All events are free and open to the public. The Lakeport Plantation is located at 601 Hwy 142, Lake Village, Arkansas. For more information call 870.265.6031 or visit

2017 Lakeport Legacies Schedule

Lakeport Legacies, a monthly history talk, is free and open to the public.
Refreshments and conversation at 5:30 pm · Program at 6:00 pm

March 30 · Building Delta Plantations: Connecting Washington County, Mississippi, and Chicot County, Arkansas  · Dr. Blake Wintory (Lakeport Plantation)

April 28-29 ·  In leiu of Lakeport Legacies · Behind the Big House w/ Joseph McGill of the Slave Dwelling Project (Joint Program of Preserve Arkansas & Lakeport Plantation)

May 25 · An Unconventional Conveyance: Rev. Jim Kelly and New Hope Missionary Baptist Church · Reverend Demetria L. Edwards, M.Div., J.D. (New Hope Missionary Baptist Church) and Dr. Blake Wintory (Lakeport Plantation)

June 29 · A Case Study in Diversity: Southeast Arkansas Legislators, 1868-Jim Crow · Rodney Harris (University of Arkansas)

July 27 · Ironclads, Cotton and Corn: The Civil War in the Mississippi Delta · Jim Woodrick (Mississippi Department of Archives and History)

August 31 · Grasping Shadows: Evolution of the MS Delta Chinese Heritage Museum · Emily Jones (Delta State University Archives & Museum)

September 28 · The Polks’ Plantations and the Creation of Cotton Kingdom in the Old South · Dr. Kelly Jones (Austin Peay State University)

October 19 ·  Influence of Southeast Arkansas in the Arkansas Historical Association · Maylon Rice (Arkansas Historical Association) [program on Third Thursday and will start at 5:30 due to DST/Standard Time change]

The first Lakeport Legacies of 2017 will feature Dr. Blake Wintory, director of the Lakeport Plantation on March 30. Dr. Wintory will present, “Building Delta Plantations: Connecting Washington County, Mississippi, and Chicot County, Arkansas.”.


Although the Mississippi River divides Washington County, Mississippi and Chicot County, Arkansas, their histories are intertwined. Kentuckians like the Johnsons, Wards and Worthingtons, settled in both counties in the 1820s and 1830s. Decades later, the families displayed the optimism and prosperity of Antebellum plantation life with the construction of large plantation house. The Johnson and Worthington families built stylish Italianate and Greek Revival homes in this era: Mount Holly (ca. 1856), Belmont (1857); Willoughby (1858), and Lakeport (1859). A careful restoration of Lakeport by Arkansas State University and thorough research of neighboring plantations suggests a group of carpenters from Madison, Indiana constructed several homes for the Johnsons and Worthingtons. This research thus reveals that Kentucky planters in the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta reached back to the Ohio Valley (Kentucky and Indiana) for materials and builders of their iconic “Southern” homes.


For more information and to RSVP, contact Blake Wintory 870.265.6031

Press Release: Preserve Arkansas to Present “Behind the Big House” Program at Lakeport Plantation

Contact: Rachel Silva Patton

For Immediate Release – March 9, 2017

Preserve Arkansas to Present “Behind the Big House” Program at Lakeport Plantation

LITTLE ROCK—Preserve Arkansas, in partnership with the Arkansas Humanities Council, Arkansas State University Heritage Sites, Black History Commission of Arkansas, and Lakeport Plantation, is proud to present “Behind the Big House” on April 28-29 at Lakeport Plantation in Lake Village, Arkansas. The Behind the Big House program moves beyond the “Big Houses,” or stately historic homes, to explore extant slave dwellings and interpret the experiences of the enslaved people who inhabited them. This workshop will include live historical interpretations and lectures to highlight the important contributions African Americans made to Arkansas’s history and provide a broad understanding of the importance of slave dwellings and their role in heritage tourism.

Registration is free, but space is limited. Register at by April 14. Registration does not include lunch. An optional box lunch may be pre-ordered for $12. For more information and the full schedule of events, call 501-372-4757 or visit

This project is supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Preserve Arkansas works to build stronger communities by reconnecting Arkansans to our heritage and empowering people to save and rehabilitate historic places. For more information about Preserve Arkansas or to become a member, contact Rachel at 501-372-4757,, or visit


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