November 2, 2016 Edition

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Shannon Fisher (left) and Bryson Long of the City of Walnut Ridge hang a historic marker at the 1893 building being completely renovated by Jon and Lesa Walter on Northeast Front Street in Walnut Ridge. Nine historic markers have been placed in the downtown Walnut Ridge area.

Historic markers reveal WR history

John Bland

The history of Walnut Ridge and its historic downtown buildings is being revealed, preserved and brought to the forefront thanks to historic and informative markers being hung downtown.

The historic markers are a cooperative project of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee, Downtown Walnut Ridge and Entergy Arkansas, which provided a grant to fund six of the signs.

The markers include historic images, brief histories of buildings and other historic facts. At present, there are nine historic markers and two directional maps. A map showing the location of all the historic markers is also planned.

Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp said the purpose of the markers is to provide visitors and tourists more reasons to spend time in the area. "Once we get visitors to town, the longer we can keep them here then the more they will shop and eat," he said.

The markers include such information and photos as the Walnut Ridge/Hoxie Trolley Car, the Hotel Rhea history, The Grill, and one of Walnut Ridge’s oldest continuous businesses, Sexton Pharmacy. Two markers are located at The Studio and another is at Beatles Park.

Photos used in the project come from the book, "Images of America: Walnut Ridge & Hoxie" by Jon Walter and James Whitlow. Walter also provided the text for the signs, and Brett Cooper designed them.

The 1893 Walter building was originally the home of the Herman Arndt Mercantile, and thus the historic marker is named "Arndt Mercantile."

The site was also once home to a grocery store and a furniture store, and by the 1920s, the downstairs was the home of Johnson Undertakers, later Johnson Funeral Home. In 1945, it became the home of Aurora Lodge #423, Free & Accepted Masons. The upstairs of the building was their home for 98 years, from 1915 until 2013.

This and more information is contained in the "Arndt Mercantile" historic marker.

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