Lawrence County Historical Records Find Secure Home

FEBRUARY 28, 2006 - Posted at 12:26 p.m. CST

POWHATAN, AR - Officials with the Lawrence County Historical Society (LCHS) today announced that the Arkansas History Commission, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and the LCHS have executed a Memorandum of Agreement which will result in construction of a historical and genealogical research facility on the grounds of the Powhatan Courthouse State Park.

The facility will be called the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives (NARA) will be housed in the former Church of Christ building now owned by the Powhatan park.  A state-of-the-art vaulted storage facility will be constructed adjacent to the church building.  It will house thousands of records, journals, artifacts, and books now being temporarily held by the Society and at the Dean B. Ellis Library archives at Arkansas State University.

The LCHS has long been the caretaker of thousands of records, some dating back to the early 1800s, which were previously held in the vaults of the Powhatan Courthouse.  When the Parks Department began re-modeling the facility and working on new displays in 2003, it asked Historical Society officials to find a new home for the records, which had been safely housed in the courthouse for decades.  After a public outcry from Society members and Lawrence County officials, the Parks Department eventually opted to build the new facility to house Lawrence County's records, and potentially those of other northeast Arkansas counties.

As part of the agreement, the LCHS will assist the ASU archives department in obtaining grants to provide researchers to inventory, repair and properly store the records now held in boxes at ASU.

When completed, NARA is expected to be "one of the finest historical and genealogical facilities in this part of the nation, and will house records which date back to the Louisiana Purchase and early territorial Arkansas," according to Lawrence County Historical Society president Lloyd Clark.