Looking Back – Mountain Home Square 1900

Mountain Home’s downtown square at the turn of the century

As is true with most county seats the courthouse is the center attraction. Not true with the first Baxter County courthouse, known today as the Casey House which was the courthouse in 1873, located near the fair grounds. Later the courthouse was relocated to an existing boarding house which was purchased in 1878 for $600 and was located at College and 5th Street. By 1879 the old boarding house was determined to be unfit for a courthouse and bids we let for a new courthouse to be built at the square at a cost of $1292. This courthouse was made of wood and burnt to the ground in 1890. The next courthouse built at the square was a two story brick structure. A third story was added during G. W. Walker’s administration as county judge, making it impossible to move a seat of government to another town (Cotter). The law provided that when a courthouse of three stories or more was located in a town, that town would remain the county seat. The structure was torn down and the current courthouse was built in 1943.

As the center of town the square would draw large crowds for special events. These events included the sale of local produce and crops similar to today’s farmer markets held in Mountain Home. Cotton was the big crop for this area at that time and farmers would bring in their crops for the cotton sale. Parades would either start or finish at the square. During the early years the square was the point where many firsts in Mountain Home happened – first wind mill powered well, first electricity.

This picture shows the south side of the square and is taken looking southeast. The most striking building in this picture is the Methodist Church which was erected in 1879 as a two story building. It was located at 8th and Baker Street, The second story was used by the Masonic Lodge. The Methodist Church was destroyed in 1904 by a wind storm.

Moving clock wise around this portion of the square. The first building was the City Livery, a wood frame building which had a false two story front and a large double wide door. This building was located at the southeast corner of 7th and Baker Street where the Alley Abstract Co. stands today.

The next three wood buildings served as the location of a number of general stores and specialty shops for the turn of the century. In the picture the second building has a sign that reads “The Racket” which we have note found any reference to. Today we see the Mountain Home Floral Co., Natures Way Health Food.

The only building in this picture that still stands today is the two story concrete block building which has served many purposes. In the early days it was the Harness Shop, and later farm implements, Mountain Home Bank, Peoples Bank and today Nima’s Pizza and Arts and Craft Gift Shop.

The last building during the period of this picture was the Post Office and the Johnson Sons General Store specializing in farm and ranch implements. This would also change many times through the years and was the location of the building collapse when a basement was attempted to be dug under the building. Today this building is the location of the Baxter County Collector and Assessor offices.

Next week we will revisit this same area and review the damage caused to Mountain Homes Square by the 1904 tornado.

Photographs and information provided in this series was provided by the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society (BCHGS). If you have additional photos and information you would like to have properly preserved please contact the BCHGS by phone (870-425-2551), by email bcarchives@centurytel.net, or by mail to Baxter County Historical Society, P.O. Box 2125, Mountain Home, AR 72654. Additional information may be found at www.baxtercountyhistory.org.