Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vintage Photo: Melbourne Around theTurn of the Century

Last night I was delighted to find an e-mail waiting for me from a friend of the site, Randy Williams, which included the amazing photo below. The photo is of Dixon Street looking north along the court square and appears to have been taken sometime around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Due to the presence of all the men in like dress, this could have been during the 1912 Ex-Confederate Reunion. If so, this is the same year that the old red brick courthouse was built. I offer this possibility based on an account of an Arkansas Supreme Court case concerning the building of the brick structure, "Izard County vs The Bank of Melbourne (No. 348)" recorded in the Southwestern Reporter Volume 185 where building contracts were challenged. One of the contractors named in the case was the merchant, M.F. Hill, whose store is in the photo.


If the photo was taken earlier than 1890, just off frame to the right might have stood the old original wood frame structure that had previously burned to the ground along with all of Izard County's records. If it was taken between 1890 and 1912, it would be the wooden building that replaced the previous one. The second courthouse that was built in Melbourne was taken down in 1912 and replaced with the beautiful red brick courthouse that burned in 1937.

Perhaps the wagon in the photo is one that hauled the brick up from Wild Haws Landing and the men in the photo are part of the construction crew during a break?

Perhaps not. But...if so, don't you love it when history comes together?

Be sure to check out the comments below. There's more info about Melbourne around this time.


Anonymous said...

Really a great photo of downtown Melbourne about the turn of the century. The EG Landers building where the larger group of men are was my great grandfather's general store. He relocated his business from Lunenburg in the 1890s. My grandfather J. Hayden Landers joined his father in the business where he worked until his death in 1946. Mike Landers

Al-Ozarka said...

Thanks, Mike. I was expecting you to comment or e-mail me on this. I had not intended to post the photo but decided to do so when I came across the links I provided in the post. I have an original copy of Karr Shannon's "A History of Izard County" and read about your grandfather and great grandfather last night. I didn't have the information (dates, etc.) with me this morning or I would have also mentioned them in the post. I appreciate your sharing it with our readers!

Joan Stirling said...

Where would the Landers building be in downtown Melbourne today?

Al-Ozarka said...


It's the west side of the square. The west court square along Dixon Street burned twice.

The first fire was in 1905 and destroyed all the buildings except the old bank building and what eventually became the Ozark Theater. Karr Shannon wrote that the theater was a store at the time of the fire.

In 1929, the west side burned again (You'll be interested to also know that "the entire north and east sides, including the hotel, were burned out in 1908. Then in 1911, the south side of the square went up in flames..." - Karr Shannon). Only the theater building and one store building, Byram's, survived the 1929 fire on the west side of the court square. answer your question...I'm not at all sure that the E.G. Landers store in the photo is still standing.

Sorry for the lengthy reply.:)

mikeark said...

Joan: After the West side of the square burned E G landers and son J Hayden Landers moved the business to the NW corner of Dixon and Hwy 69. The store was located there at the time of Haydens death in 1946. The Millers bought the property and the store was used as storage when, in about 1999 a large truck collided with the structure and it had to be demolished. I have photos of the store taken just prior to it's demolition

Jean Miller Harvell said...

I think you are wrong. The store building is still there and is now Cooper's furniture. On the NW corner on the north side of the highway was Rector's Store.

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