Clarendon was once a thriving community, as were many parts of the Arkansas Delta. At one time, they boasted a button factory, a fresh water pearl market, a thriving fish market, movie theater and a box factory. Walking around the old buildings this summer, it was apparent that, at one point, the town was bustling with people and businesses.
At the center of it all was the Monroe County Courthouse. Constructed in 1911, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program recognizes the three-story building as architecturally and historically significant. An example of Italian Renaissance Revival style, it is one of Arkansas’s most prominent courthouses. As of 1976, the courthouse has been included on the National Register of Historic Places.
Just behind the courthouse is the old jail, which has been vacant since 1988. Constructed by Pauly Jail Manufacturing of Saint Louis Missouri in 1891, it is the oldest standing county building of Monroe County.
A few blocks away is the Union Pacific Railway Bridge. It is a swing-draw through truss railroad bridge built in 1935 by the Virginia Bridge and Iron Company of Roanoke, Virginia. Still in operation, this structure was quietly waiting for some traffic that balmy Saturday morning.
Although the city’s economy is less than robust at this time, officials believe that perhaps focusing on new ways to generate revenue will be of benefit. One alternative is the tourism industry. Hunting and fishing have always been popular in this area, therefore, attention has been directed on bringing some of the dollars spent on these and other types of recreation into the community. Then, hopefully, we might see a resurgence in this sleepy little town in the Arkansas Delta.