A Main Street Story With Pictures

Before 1900 the Main Street blocks west of Central Avenue in Batesville sported businesses and tall buildings, some long gone, that had stories to tell. George Lankford will be presenting a program in Old Independence Regional Museum that will open some of those stories on Sunday, August 10 at 2 pm.

“Block 13, framed by Main, Central and Poke Bayou, gives a lot of insights into Batesville’s beginnings,” said Lankford. “It has the distinction of being the upper boundary of the original Old Town plat of 1821. Some of the most important architecture of 19th century Batesville was built there.”

The museum holds many photographs of Batesville’s Main Street over the decades, according to collections curator Sharan Pittser. “Dr. Lankford will be showing some of them as part of his program,” she stated.

That Main Street block had big ups and downs, fires and triumphs. Once it contained the magnificent Batesville Institute, an early opera house, a three-storied bank building, and the multi-storied Arlington Hotel. Those who attend the program will enjoy taking a look at a Batesville they never knew, stated Lankford.

Lankford’s talk will also introduce a Main Street Batesville writing project. Local historians are presently researching and compiling a book that will illustrate the history of Main Street before and during the decades from 1875 to 1975. His contribution to the book will cover the area that he will be speaking about in the museum program.

The program will be free and open to the public. Normal museum hours are: Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for seniors and $1.00 for children. The museum is located at 380 South 9th street, between Boswell and Vine Streets in Batesville.

Old Independence is a regional museum serving a 12-county area: Baxter, Cleburne, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Marion, Poinsett, Sharp, Stone, White, and Woodruff. Parts of these present-day counties comprised the original Independence County in 1820’s Arkansas territory.