Richard Sheppard Arnold U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, Little Rock, AR
Location: 600 W Capitol Ave, Little Rock, AR 72201
After the Civil War ended, the city of Little Rock prospered as a cotton and lumber market and as the chief center of trade for Arkansas. The population had grown from 3700 in 1860 to 88,000 by 1940. During the growth period of the 1930s, the need arose for a larger post office. Thus, the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse in Little Rock was built in 1931-32, during one of the most difficult periods of American history - the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The passage of the Public Buildings Act of 1926 precipitated a period of building construction that was unprecedented in the United States. The Public Buildings Act specified that the office of the Supervising Architect of the Department of the Treasury would be responsible for the design and construction of all public buildings. James A. Wetmore was Acting Supervising Architect at the beginning of this period of construction. Since he retired in the early 1930s this may have been the last federal building whose construction he supervised. Though pre-dating the economic problems of the 1930s, the Public Buildings Act was the catalyst for the vast federal building program of the period and for providing jobs for thousands of construction workers around the country.
Wetmore signed the construction drawings for the design of the new postal facility in May of 1931. Construction was completed by December of 1932. The east wing of the building was extended to the north in 1941 with an addition designed by Louis Simon as Supervising Architect of the Treasury and W.G. Noll as Chief of Architecture. The 1941 extension replicated the exterior of the original building. The west wing of the building was extended to the north in 1987. The 1987 addition is an abstraction of the original design.
The building is located along the axis of the State Capitol building and functions in both a visual and practical capacity to enhance the monumental quality of the state's capital city. Though not listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building is considered eligible (determined, 3/30/81) because it possesses the listed qualities of integrity and embodies the characteristics of Greek Revival architecture. It was renamed the Richard Sheppard Arnold U.S. Post Office and Courthouse in 2003. The building is symbolic of the federal presence in Little Rock and is a reminder of the growth of the federal government as evidenced in the building period of the 1930s.
- Architect: Wetmore, James A.
- Construction Date: 1932
- GSA Building Number: AR0030ZZ
- National Register of Historic Places Landmark Status: National Register Listed