Thursday, June 17, 2010

Belle Grove Historic District - Fort Smith, Arkansas

Some of the most beautiful Civil War landmarks in Arkansas can be found in Fort Smith's unique Belle Grove Historic District.

Bounded by North Fifth, North H, North Eighth and North C Streets and located just a couple of blocks north of Garrison Avenue in downtown Fort Smith, Belle Grove preserves architecture spanning 130 years and numerous architectural styles. It was a thriving community at the time of the Civil War and the home of some of the most prosperous business leaders in western Arkansas.

The oldest home in the district is the John Rogers House, built in 1840 and modeled after the brick quarters of the fort from which Fort Smith takes its name. Rogers was one of the founders of the city of Fort Smith and ironically his house outlasted all but two of the buildings of the fort that was for a time the "little Gibraltar on the Arkansas."

Also dating from before the Civil War is the Casper Reutzel House. Built in 1850, it was the home of largest cotton shipper on the Arkansas River. Not only was the house built in an unusual half timber style, it was also loopholed for musketry to allow its inhabitants to hold off an attack.

The Belle Grove Historic District was actually within the fortifications erected by Union troops around the downtown area in 1864 and houses there were used to quarter troops. The city came under direct attack only once, but the fighting took place well away from the district.

To learn more about Belle Grove Historic District, please visit

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