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OPINION: Building has boomed over the years

October 13, 2021 at 5:30 a.m.

In a sense, Pea Ridge has been building and expanding for many years.

Although the rate of development in earlier years was far less rapid than what we have seen in the years since 2000, things have been happening for many decades, especially since World War II.

In the really early years, up until about 1945, most of the notable building in our town was in the downtown business district. For example, most of the current buildings in the east block of old downtown, from the old NAPA store building eastward to our former City Hall, were built between 1911 and 1920. The red brick store buildings in the west block, south side, were begun in 1928 with three units, the Luther Martin Grocery at the intersection, the Barber Shop, and the old Post Office. Eva Patterson's Dry Goods Store was built just after the War in 1946 on a lot that had been empty for many years, largely serving as a parking lot for wagons and horses. Today, of course, that building is the entrance area of the T.H. Rogers Hardware.

The ending of World War II brought many developments to Pea Ridge -- the Eva Patterson Store just mentioned, the C.H. Mount Grocery and Feed Store (now Pea Ridge Upholstery), the Masonic Lodge Hall, which became the E.H. Building, now the Pea Ridge Historical Society's Museum, the Charles Hardy Garage and Station (now part of the lumber unit of T.H. Rogers Hardware & Lumber). In the late 1950s, the "new" Post Office with Stanley Buttry as postmaster was opened at the west end of the block.

The late 1940s also saw a beginning of the building of new residences. I think the Hugh and Nell Webb home on McIntosh Street was built in 1946. The Pea Ridge Volunteer Fire Department had its beginnings in the early 1950s, and the first fire station, which was mainly a truck storage unit, was built just north of the corner gas station on what is now called North Curtis Avenue. The new Pea Ridge Telephone Company opened first in the old hospital building, which then stood between the original fire station and the Lodge Hall on North Curtis Avenue.

The early 1950s were also road-building years.

The highways to Rogers and Bentonville were paved, and in some areas relocated, with sharp corners moderated. Our city streets also began gradually bit by bit to be paved. New houses began appearing along what we now call McCulloch Street and Davis Street.

A drive-in movie theater was opened at the corner of Lee Town Road and Arkansas Highway 94, where Arvest Bank is now situated. L.E. Hardy opened the Pea Ridge Mill at the intersection corner now occupied by the EZ Mart, along with a Lion Gas Station operated by Ralph Bolain. Jack and Joe Lasater moved their Phillips 66 Station from the downtown Park Motel area to the new site at the intersection of Arkansas Highways 72 and 94 where today's White Oak Station operates.

I can't put dates on some of the housing developments, although I think the Lee Town Circle area developed in the 1960s, as did houses on Smith Street and on Price, Hays and Lyon streets. The same period of time saw brick homes going up on Van Dorn, Asboth, Bowen and Hoffman streets. Of course, that was before today's street naming plan was adopted, and the streets were generally un-named in the beginning.

Streets were described by naming people who lived on such and such street. About 1968, the Bank of Pea Ridge, which had operated in old downtown since 1911, moved out to the intersection of Arkansas Highway 94 and Lee Town Road. What had been an area about a mile south of downtown Pea Ridge was on its way to becoming town center.

For many years, Pea Ridge had basically four church houses. The earliest was the Mt. Vernon Presbyterian, the second was the Methodist Church, then the Baptist Church on what we now call North Curtis Avenue, and the Church of Christ located at Patton Street and Curtis Avenue.

The first "new" church that I recall was the Freewill Baptist Church on Lee Town Road. The next, I think, was the Pentecostal Holiness Church on South Arkansas Highway 94. Soon, the Nazarene Church was added on Arkansas Highway 72 west (Slack Street). Then, new churches began appearing on Weston Street, the Assembly of God, the Weston Street Chapel, New Life Fellowship, and eventually Westside Baptist. Of course more recent years brought the Messiah Lutheran Church and the Episcopal Church to Arkansas Highway 94 west. Even as the town has grown it has remained "well-churched," so to speak, and today, some 20 or so churches serve the area in and around Pea Ridge.


Editor's note: This column was previously published in The TIMES. Jerry Nichols, a native of Pea Ridge and an award-winning columnist, was vice president of Pea Ridge Historical Society.

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