Washington-Willow Historic District

Fayetteville City, Washington County, AR

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House at 210 East Davidson, Washington-Willow Historic District, Fayetteville

Photo: House at 210 East Davidson, Washington-Willow Historic District, Fayetteville. Listed on the National Registerin 1984. Photographed by wikipedia username:Brandonrush , 2013, own work, [cc-3.0]. Accessed December, 2023.

The Washington-Willow Historic District [†] consists largely of two streets and is visibly distinct with a commercial highway on the west; public buildings on the south; and udeveloped areas and newer homes on the north and east. The boundaries of the district were established after a survey of the larger residential area indicated on the district map. A careful rating of all structures within the survey area was conducted. The district boundaries were set based upon the concentration of significant buildings and relative lack of intrusions.

The earliest written history of the district focuses on two families, the McGarrah's and the Davidson's. George McGarrah was among the first settlers of Fayetteville (organized in 1828) and laid claim to a large tract of land on the west side of East Mountain. McGarrah's property included the southern part of the Washington-Willow Historic District, north to Maple Street. The McGarrah family sold and gave away small portions of its farm before the Civil War. Headquarters House (Di-1) was built on one piece of that land and the Lotspeich House on another. The Fayetteville Masons acquired the McGarrah property after the Civil War. In 1869 the farm was subdivided and the lots sold. The following year the Masonic Addition became the first area annexed to the original city of Fayetteville. In the 1870s several houses were built on the large lots of the subdivision (averaging about 130 feet by 200 feet}, including the Wood (Wa-2), Wade-Heerwagen and the Stone-Hilton houses. Elias Davidson settled ouside Fayetteville in 1859, acquiring a large tract of land north of McGarrah's farm. Davidson's second home on the property (.Da-1) was constructed c. 1869. Portions of the Davidson lands were subdivided and built on in the 1880s and thereafter. Yet the Davidson House is still surrounded by one of the largest estates in the city.

The initial filling-in of the Washington-Willow Historic District in the 1870s paralleled the community's recovery from a particularly disastrous Civil War experience. In 1871, Fayetteville was chosen as the site of Arkansas' land-grant university and in 1882 a north-south railroad was completed through the town.

In the 1890s Fayetteville became a banking and distribution center and the hub of prosperous tourist, lumber and fruit-processing industries. During that period of growth, the Washington-Willow Historic District became, as it remains, the center of the most prestigious residential area in the city (one street of this area--nm-1 U. S. Highway 71--was given over to commercial development in the 1950s). Bankers, lumber merchants, a furniture manufacturer, a university president, lawyers, railroad men, wholesale grocers and a cigar manufacturer built two-story family homes in the fashionable architectural styles of the period. The homes were large enough that, at the turn of the century, many households had live-in servants and let rooms to tourists and university students. Beginning in the 1890s, many of the large lots \'lere subdivided and the process of infill with smaller homes began. With few exceptions cottages and bungalows were built between the older buildings and on any other available land. The district thus lost its early upper class character and took on the diverse orientation that it retains. In the 20th century, some of the homes were altered to reflect the development of new architectural styles.

The Washington-Willow Historic District contains the highest concentration of significant structures worthy of preservation in Fayetteville. The archeological potential of the district has not been fully explored but there have been produtive excavations (salvage archeology) behind Headquarters House. There is evidence that a nearby spring attracted Indians as well as the earliest white settlers. It is suspected, therefore, that significant archeological remains exist in the area.

Among the significant people who had homes in the district were Albert M. Byrnes, Benjamin R. Davidson, Arthur M. Harding, John R. Harris and Dr. Harvey D. Wood. Byrnes moved to Fayetteville in 1866 and in the next 60 years established lumber and contracting businesses. He built an estimated 300 structures in the corm1unity including at least 10 homes in the district. Byrnes' own home, constructed in the district in 1875, was replaced circa 1960. Davidson came to Fayetteville with his parents in 1859. He became a 1awyer, bank president, rail road president and member of the Arkansas legislature. Harding, in the 20th century, was president of the University of Arkansas and co-author of four mathematics textbooks. Harris was preident of two Fayetteville banks early in the 20th century. And Wood practiced medicine in the county for over 60 years and was instrumental in the establishment of a hospital in Fayetteville in 1906.

Architectural styles popular from the mid-19th century to the present are represented in the district. The styles range from Greek Revival to ranch style. Various Victorian themes (especially Eastlake, Queen Anne and Italianate, Classical Revival, Bungalow, modern workers' cottages and 20th century period houses are included. The district is comprised of both brick and wood frame b uil dings , with frequent use of stone for foundations and piers. Some houses have been faced with stucco, asbestos and aluminum siding. Many of the houses have large porches, donners, and hip and gable roofs. Homes enriched with bargeboards, brackets, stained glass, bay windowss. transoms and sidelights appear throughout the district.

Adapted from: Carolyn Newbern, Robert O. Besom, Historian, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. Washington-Willow Historic District, nomination document, 1980, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Street Names
Davidson Street East • Dickson Street East • Lafayette Street East • Maple Street East • Sutton Street • Washington Avenue North • Willow Avenue North

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