The History of Pea Ridge

Pea-Ridge-Picture-for-Article-page

The following article by Billie Jines is the history of the building which is now city hall. Billie was the editor of our local newspaper for a number of years.

The historic concrete block building housing the Pea Ridge City Hall has just undergone major remodeling. It has served, however, as the seat of city government here since its purchase in late 1970.

For many decades, though, this once double building, two buildings side by side, had served this community in a variety of ways. Take, for instance, when part of it housed Vogt’s Dry Goods Store. It was opened about 1947 with Imogene Lasater as manager. The store carried both ladies’ and men’s clothing, as well as other dry goods. When the store had operated about two years, the owner, Robert Vogt, sold its stock to Eva Patterson. She moved it to a building erected immediately east of the old post office in the next block.

Most people, with whom this writer discussed the building, mentioned first the name of Charlie Tetrick, the produce he operated and his other businesses in parts of the structure. There were his feed store and hatchery, some point out.

The produce was where the public brought chickens, eggs, cream, rabbits, strawberries and other products to sell. Or where they came to buy. The sawdust heaped high in one area was what kept ice from melting as it awaited customers.

One boy, now a senior citizen here, remembered the very hot day when he got to buy 25 pounds of ice. He put it in his burlap sack and headed out the two miles up Jacket Rd. By the time he got home, much of the ice had melted, but the family retrieved enough to make ice cream in their hand-turned freezer.

An older woman, whose family lived a few miles from town when she grew up, reminisced about the selling of produce there. Sometimes when the family needed an extra quarter or two, she and her sister were told to take a hen to the produce to sell. It was not the walk into town that they dreaded. It was the fear that some of the boys they knew might be sitting on the whittlers’ bench nearby and see them having to bring in a hen to sell.

For a time, Emmett Spriggs ran a moving picture show in part of the building. No plush seats, those days. But boards placed on blocks made an acceptable seating place for such welcome entertainment in the pre-television era.

Charles Hardy recalled the Chevrolet dealership owned by Ben Doke that was housed in the building. He said the business had gone through the 1928 models and started the 1929s when it closed down. George Wells was the mechanic, but not in that building. He worked in a building east of that one across the alley.

Most folks recalled the office of Dr. L. 0. Greene upstairs, and a four-room apartment up there, too. According to deed records, Dr. Greene built the upstairs portion of the structure, or at least of one of the parts of the double building. On Nov. 29, 1915, he got a Quit Claim Deed from F.J. Stewart and Maida M., his wife; F. A. Price and Mina, his wife; and C. T. Tetrick and Nolie, his wife. It said that this was for “all of the walls and structures of whatsoever character now being and existing above the joists on which is laid the floor of the 2nd story of the building. ..“ It mentioned the exterior wall of concrete and said, “…in reliance of which L. 0. Greene has expended considerable sum of money in constructing the second story of said building.”

It seems likely that the building work was done by W. J. Rogers, Sr. His son, W. J., Jr. of Rogers, discussed it with this writer. W. J., Jr. was only a year old when the family moved from Pea Ridge to Rogers in 1918. His older brothers, however, had helped their father in the making of concrete blocks and the erection of some of the buildings in that block. All of his brothers now are deceased, but W. J., Jr. did hear one of them, Carl W. Rogers, not long before his death, tell a friend that he knew for certain that their father built “the drug store and the hardware.” Both of these still exist but in use as other businesses. W. J., Jr. thinks that Carl would have been too young at that time to have done much of the work and that it probably was two older brothers, Everett and Prather, who helped their father in the construction work.

It is well documented in the 1911 board minutes of the Bank of Pea Ridge that W. J. Rogers, Sr. erected the first home of the bank in that same business block. The board accepted his bid of $650 to ‘build a cement building 20 by 40 feet with 12-foot ceiling, all complete except the front.” That same building now houses the Pea Ridge Community Library. Incidentally, Rogers’ bid also included him providing a warranty deed to the lot.

The 80 acres out of which came the lots on which City Hall stands date back to the Patent Deed signed by U. S. President Franklin Pierce Mar. 1, 1854 to George H. Foster.

Between that time and Mar. 18, 1890, plats for the original Town of Pea Ridge had been drawn. So it was that on that date, George R. Foster and Elizabeth, his wife, gave a Warranty Deed to Stephen D. Wood for Lots 1, 2, 3 and 4 of Block 3 that lay within the original 80 acres.

Here let us look at that portion of the downtown business area. Block 3 starts roughly at the alley east of City Hall and goes westward to Curtis Ave. There it turns south and goes to the corner of the Sisco Funeral Home lot, then back east to where it would join the alley if the alley had been cut through to McIntosh St., and, finally, back north to Pickens St.

The lots facing what we know as Pickens Rd. started at the east end, going west, Lot 1, 2, 3 and 4: Lot 4 is at the intersection of Pickens and Curtis, while City Hall occupies parts of Lots 1 and 2.

As the block heads back east off of Curtis Ave., Sisco Funeral home starts on Lot 5, followed by the other lots, 6, 7 and 8.

These lots were not all kept as full lots; hence today it would seem as if there were more than four lots facing Pickens Rd., but as deed records indicate, sometimes only part of a lot was sold to someone.

However, on Mar. 31, 1891, Stephen D. Wood and Martha, his wife, gave a Warranty Deed for an acre that evidently included all four lots there across from school property. The acre went to M. D. L. Gore and James E. Lilley. Gore and Lilley paid $700 for the property.

Then, a year passed, and on Apr. 13, 1892 for $452, James E. Lilley, bought out that tract from Gore, his co-partner in ownership

The next month, on May 30, 1892, J. E. Lilley, ‘a widower,’ sold Lots 1, 2, 3 and 4 in Block 3 of the property to “J. M. Putman and company.” In other words, Putman bought all of the lots facing Pickens Rd. from the alley back to Curtis Ave.

On Nov. 22 that year, J. R. Wheat purchased Lot 4. This still left Lots 1, 2 and 3 back toward the alley. No doubt, other transactions took place involving these tracts, and by the time the city purchased what now is City Hall, they got parts of Lots I and 2.

Long before that, though, the double building had been erected. A daughter of C. T. Tetrick is Dorothy Burgin of Siloam Springs, with whom this writer spoke while pursuing this story. She pointed out that she was young in the years her father ran his businesses there. However, she had understood that her father and Dr. L. 0. Greene owned the building together. This apparently is borne out in the Quit Claim in which Dr. Greene financed the construction of the second floor;

For some years, the town enjoyed the availability of a series of cafes operating in the building. Although the names of several of these proprietors were learned, it was not possible to learn what order they operated there.

Winnie Shadley Patterson of Rogers said that her parents, Charles and Irene Shadley leased it from Charlie Tetrick, she thought. They remodeled it and opened a cafe May 4, 1944. Her father had been a chef in the Navy, she said, and had always dreamed of having a cafe of his own. However, he only lived a few weeks, dying in July, 1944. Winnie thought part of the work load that helped bring about his heart attack was in having to carry water for the cafe from across the street at the school’s pump.

Mrs. Shadley, with help of her daughters, Winnie and Marion, continued to operate the cafe. Then, in October, 1945, she married Don Johnson, and he and Irene went on running the cafe for a couple of years.

Flarence Ella Bolain thinks it was around 1946 or 1947 when her parents, Dewey and Una Buttry ran the cafe with help from their daughter-in-law, Mildred Buttry.

Mrs. Bolain also spoke to another proprietor of a cafe there, Pansy Gastineau now of Springdale. With help from her mother-in-law, Geneva Gastineau, she operated the business from October, 1962 to August, 1963.

Mrs. Gastineau reportedly sold the business to Mr. and Mrs. Howard Thomas. The Thomas’s’ daughter, Cynthia Browning, said that her mother was joined by Mrs. Howard Greene in the operation. Later, Mrs. Greene withdrew from the business, and Mrs. Thomas continued to run it for maybe a year or so.

Earlier, from 1949 to 1951, the cafe was operated by Phil and Florence Beguin. Their daughter, Jenita Prophet, said that her father also ran a real estate business there for Bob Vogt in the back of the cafe. The family resided in the back of the cafe, and she pointed out that this was in the part of the building that later housed the Pea Ridge Fire Department.

At the same time, she said, there was an apartment upstairs in which various families resided; And Charlie Tetrick’s feed store was in the southeast corner of the building.

The cafe was a popular place for teenagers to hang out, she said. They played music and pool there.

Just how many operated a cafe there is not known, nor was the writer able to contact some who might have known more. For instance, it was mentioned that Retha Jefferson and the late Pearl Miller might once have had the cafe, as well as Ruth and Hubert Follett and Ruth and Frank Dean. Records do show that Oct. 26, 1956, Eula Campbell, a daughter of Charlie Tetrick and his wife issued a Warranty Deed to Roy W. Taylor and Nada Z. Taylor, his wife, for the property.

During the Taylors’ proprietorship, it is said that they cut a door between the two buildings, whereas, it had been a separate wall between the two parts of the structure previously. In the east building, they established a banquet room. The cedar wainscoting in that room still was in use in what had been -the Council Room until recently. Just how long the Taylors ran the cafe is not now known.

It is known that it was Nada Z. Taylor, who sold the property to the city in 1970. At that time, there were two other businesses operating in the building: Elkhorn Gun and Gift Shop and Walker’s Radio and TV.

The purchase agreement was dated Oct. 8, 1970 with Mrs. Taylor selling the property to the City of Pea Ridge. This was the city’s second city hall. About three years earlier, the city and Earle and Billie Jines, publishers of THE PEA RIDGE GRAPHIC, now THE TIMES, shared the rent on the building immediately north of Sisco Funeral Home. It served not only the city but the paper’s office until the Jineses sold their home in Springdale and moved to Pea Ridge. The former city hall now is part of the funeral home

Prior to that, it was sometimes said that Water Superintendent Paul Chase carried the city water department around in his hip pocket. Actually, that was not quite accurate. Eva Patterson was taking care of the books at her home, and Webb’s Feed Store was the repository for records. Fred McKinney said that in those days, the state auditor would come to the feed store and audit the books out of a paper sack.

When the city occupied its rented city hall, Eula Mae Walker was hired as the city’s secretary to manage the office.

The purchase of the building now used as City Hall and Council/Court Chambers was not without controversy. The city’s purchase price was $7,890.00 of which $600 was made as a down payment and the balance was to be paid in annual installments.

A group of local citizens signed a petition asking that the voters decide whether or not to proceed with the transaction. The election was held Dec. 1, 1970 and resulted in 197 votes in favor of the purchase, as opposed to 136 opposing it.

The city occupied the building as it was at first, and along the way work began, mostly by city workers, to make improvements. One change was taking out the stairway that had led up to Dr. Greene’s office and to the apartment up there. It was replaced by a door and a hallway downstairs.

Joe Lasater, whose family lived practically in town and whose father was a downtown barber when Joe was a boy, was one of many who offered me help with this story. One of his boyhood memories had to do with that staircase. He recalled how he and another boy used to earn a bit of spending money by carrying Dr. Greene’s firewood up to his office.

The west side of the building became the Pea Ridge Fire Department, housing not only the fire trucks but the city ambulance, as well. Charles pointed out that the addition of an outside stairway to the east side of the building allowed the city to establish its first police department upstairs. It existed there until the building of the Emergency Services building on South Curtis Ave. Of course, the fire department vehicles and the ambulance also were moved to that new building.

And now the, interior of the historic building in downtown Pea Ridge has been completely remodeled. It provides attractive, efficient offices and a council/courtroom that a town or city of any size might be proud to introduce to citizens and their friends at this time.

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