May 7, 2008 Edition

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History of building being explored

USO opening
Some of the earliest information about the building's history was its use as a National Guard Armory and as a gym. Many remember it during World War II, as the headquarters for the Army while the airbase was being built and then as the USO. It was also used as an American Legion Hut. Pictured is the first USO dance held in August of 1943. Photo courtesy of the Walnut Ridge Army Flying School Museum.
Vivian Heyl
TD Staff Writer

Whether it was the National Guard Armory, the American Legion Hut, USO, Teen Town, a gym, a community center, a ballroom or a fire station, the building that stood at 218 East Main Street was more than just brick and mortar.

The building's origins are uncertain. Who built it and when it was built is a question that hasn't been completely answered. The only piece of real evidence we have is that the State of Arkansas deeded the land to Walnut Ridge in 1934.

The community has used the grand hall for plays, talent shows, concerts, dances, banquets and other events where a large room was needed. Families held weddings, receptions, reunions and showers there.

Today's generation knew the building as Fireman's Hall. It was home to the Walnut Ridge Fire Department for many years while continuing to serve as a gathering place for civic events.

Over the next few months The Times Dispatch will explore the history of the building most recently known as Fireman's Hall. Help from the community would be appreciated. We need factual information, as well as personal memories, photographs and memorabilia.

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