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Statewide Arkadelphia Benton Clarendon Fayetteville Hot Springs Little Rock Magnolia Mountain View Paris Pocahontas Powhatan Searcy Texarkana Van Buren
Statewide Travel 0

Tour 85 Arkansas Courthouses


Arkansas has a rich history, and its historic courthouses are a testament to that. These buildings are architectural landmarks that play a vital role in the state’s history. In many cases, they are cornerstone monuments that hold Main Street and downtown areas together, even growing businesses for thriving communities. For some of these smaller towns across the state, the courthouse is the most architecturally significant building in the county.

Visiting all 85 county courthouses is on the bucket list for some Arkansans. Yes, you read that right. Arkansas has 75 counties, 10 of which have two county seats, and a courthouse represents each district. In addition, we have 11 Federal courthouses.

This picture of the Jefferson County Courthouse is used with permission from Arkansas Parks Tourism and Heritage.

Taking an Arkansas courthouse tour is a great way to see the state, learn about its history and appreciate its architecture.

One of my college professors recently retired, and his travel plans inspired me. Dr. Jeffers is the kind of character that you never forget. I’m grateful for his intellectual challenge, his push toward curiosity, and his pivotal role in meeting my husband. We’ve stayed in touch through the two decades since I graduated college, and he continues to take an interest in our family. I watched from a distance as he and his wife started visiting Arkansas’ county courthouses.

Like other friends taking Arkansas State Park’s Club 52 passport challenge, they are also slowly working through the courthouses in Arkansas. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down their quest because who wants to show up to a place and take pictures when you could stick around and explore the architecture and learn the historical significance of the sacred hallways?

This picture of the inside of the Desha County Courthouse is used with permission from Arkansas Parks Tourism and Heritage.

What to Expect on a Historic Courthouse Tour

When you visit a historic courthouse, you’ll typically find a wealth of information about the county’s history. The courthouses often house museums, archives, libraries and hidden architectural masterpieces. You can learn about the people who settled the county, the events that shaped its history and the laws passed there.

In addition to learning about the county’s history, you can admire the courthouse’s architecture. These buildings are beautiful examples of late 18th and 19th-century architecture, featuring intricate details such as stained glass windows, marble floors and grand staircases.

Dr. Jeffers mentioned that they found internet research like the Encylopedia of Arkansas and Wikipedia very valuable for learning about the construction and history of the structures. In several towns, an old courthouse stands near a new one, so it’s important to consider visiting both structures.

Many of these spaces are still active courthouses conducting daily and weekly business for the judicial system. Remember this when projecting your voice, creating your tour of the facilities and trying to take pictures.

This picture of the inside of the Clark County Courthouse is used with permission from Arkansas Parks Tourism and Heritage.

Highlight Destinations

Some of the most interesting historic courthouses in Arkansas include:

  • Clark County Courthouse | Arkadelphia – built in 1899, the Romanesque-style building remains virtually unaltered from its early days. A 6-story clock tower is an iconic symbol of the town and the original plan for a courthouse square and gathering place.
  • Columbia County Courthouse | Magnolia – built in 1905, with a Greek temple portico porch and Corinthian pillars all encompassed by a Renaissance Revival styling. The downtown square traffic flow is central to the active Main Street corridor. As expected, magnolia trees fill the lawn!
  • Crawford County Courthouse | Van Buren – a stunning architectural structure that remains the oldest operating courthouse west of the Mississippi River. Initially constructed in 1842, repentant walls were included in the reconstruction following a fire in 1876. On the grounds are a three-story clock tower, a wooden 1832 schoolhouse used by Albert Pike and several memorial statues.
  • Garland County Courthouse | Hot Springs is a unique example of Romanesque Revival architecture. It is still used today and is known for its distinctive octagonal shape, built in 1885.

Historic Crawford County Courthouse in Van Buren. 

  • Monroe County Courthouse | Clarendon – Built in 1911, it carries elements of the classical revival style typical of the time. Octagonal towers with tile roofs set it apart, with a tall clock tower near its main entrance. The lobby boasts ceramic tiles and marble wainscoting, reminding us to step inside.
  • North Logan Co | Paris – Built in 1908, this courthouse is in a Classic Revival style and has three sides of entry points. It was built on a foundation of locally sourced cut gray stone. This is one of two courthouses in Logan County and was registered as a national historic site in 1976.
  • Old State House | Little Rock—This building was the state capitol from 1836 to 1911. In 1912, the state government offices moved into the Old State House, which served as a center for politics and justice in the coming decades. Today, inside the halls, a museum tells the story of Arkansas’s history.
  • Pulaski County Courthouse | Little Rock—The building boasts two historic sections: one built in 1887 and another, George Mann’s most remarkable work, an annex added in 1913. It is in a Romanesque revival style combined with the Beaux Arts annex and a city pocket park near the western portico.
  • Old Randolph County Courthouse | Pocahontas – built in 1872, it is a regional representative of the Italianate Victorian brick style. It was closed in 1940 as a courthouse but is still a public-use building.
  • Saline Country Courthouse | Benton – built in 1901 in the Romanesque Revival style. The building’s outstanding feature is a mural painted in 1942 by a San Antonio artist titled The Bauxite Man.
  • Stone County Courthouse | Mountain View – built in 1922 out of native stone. It is the only structure in the courthouse series with exposed rafter endings, a deetiolated cornice, and stone pillars around the entrance.
  • Texarkana Post Office and Federal Courthouse | Texarkana – This unique building stands as a round island across the border of Texas and Arkansas. Visitors can stand in both states and view the front of the building.

Washington County historic courthouse in Fayetteville.

  • Washington County Courthouse | Fayetteville occupies two structures. The historical courthouse dates back to 1872 and is in a Romanesque Revival style of architecture. A second courthouse and active offices for the county staff stand at the corner of Dickson Street and College. This historic corner saw one of the bloodiest skirmishes of the Civil War, the Battle of Fayetteville, fought on the front lawn of the Headquarters House, located behind the courthouse.
  • White County Courthouse | Searcy – a beautiful structure built in 1871, with additions in 1912. The WPA program brought renovations after 1933, and the historical building stands firm with a concrete wrap around the first story and red brick climbing to the cupola clock tower. It is a testament to the county’s rich history and culture.
  • Powhatan Courthouse | Powhatan – while this is not an active courthouse, it is a historically significant building to the members of Lawrence County. Built in 1888, it overlooks the Black River with care given to how it accommodated the land set aside for the structure. Today, the building is an iconic structure of the Powhatan State Park.

Sevier County Courthouse in De Queen.

Tips for Planning Your Trip

If you’re planning a historic courthouse tour of Arkansas, here are a few tips:

  • Start by making a list of the courthouses you want to visit. There are 85 courthouses, so prioritize the ones most interesting to you or determine the timeframe you’d like to see each location.
  • Plan your route. The courthouses are spread out across the state, so you must plan your route carefully to maximize your time. Many towns are nearby where you could check off several locations in one day. Or adding a courthouse visit to another vacation you are planning is an easy way to complete the list.
  • Allow plenty of time for each courthouse. You’ll want to spend at least an hour or two at each courthouse to appreciate its history and architecture fully.
  • Take your time and enjoy the journey. A historic courthouse tour is a great way to see Arkansas at your own pace, learn about its rich history and discover nearby businesses, restaurants, and the qualities that make small towns unique across the state.
  • Add this to another destination. Stopping to visit a courthouse is an easy addition when heading to a new town, driving through to somewhere else, or visiting the Arkansas State Parks.


What Else to Do on an Arkansas Courthouse Tour

In addition to visiting courthouses, there are many other things to see and do in Arkansas, regionally connected to the same locations. Here are a few ideas:

  • Visit the state parks. Arkansas has 52 state parks, which offer a variety of activities, such as hiking, camping, fishing and boating.
  • Explore the cities. Arkansas has charming towns like Eureka Springs, Fayetteville and Jonesboro. But don’t miss towns like De Queen, Magnolia, Warren, Pine Bluff, Mena, Camden, Paris or Booneville.
  • Go on a road trip. Arkansas has many scenic roads, which are perfect for a road trip.
  • Attend a festival. Arkansas hosts various festivals (and some even center around food!), such as the Hope Watermelon Festival, Bentonville Film Festival, Arkansas State Fair, and the Hot Springs Music Festival.

A historic courthouse tour is a great way to learn about Arkansas’s history and culture and see the state’s beautiful architecture. If you’re looking for a unique and educational travel experience, I highly recommend it. I’ve even added this to my own Arkansas Bucket List.

Other trips you could make with your Arkansas Historic Courthouse Tour:

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Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in Northwest Arkansas with her chicken man and break-dancing son. Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, small business trainer, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now, she is using those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop, which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom! Keisha loves to feed birds, read the stack on her nightstand, do dollar store crafts, cook recipes from her Pinterest boards, and chase everyday adventures on her Arkansas bucket list.

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