Garland County was established by Act 35 on April 5, 1873 by the Arkansas Legislature. This new county was named for Augustus Hill Garland, one of the state’s prominent attorneys and political leaders. Garland later became the eleventh governor of Arkansas and also served two terms as a United States Senator.
The first Circuit Courts of Garland County were held in various locations on Central and Park Avenues in Hot Springs. Early in 1879, the court moved to a one-story structure known as the Caver Building on Central Avenue and then moved again that year to a building on the east side of Hot Springs Creek. The courts remained there until 1882 when property on the corner of Oak and Orange Streets was purchased. The two-story building once the home of Col. L.S Allard was remodeled and used for a courthouse until the great fire on February 25, 1905 when the building and many county records were destroyed. Repairs were made to the charred building and the courts returned there temporarily as a new courthouse was being built in another location on Ouachita Avenue.
The fine new courthouse made its final stop in 1906 at the current location at Ouachita Avenue and Hawthorne Street. This courthouse was built at that time for the large sum of $ 155,000 and was proposed to have “fireproof” vaults. Unfortunately, on September 5, 1913, a second fire damaged the courthouse and again many records were lost in spite of the supposedly “fireproof” vaults. The 1906 exterior façade and structural components remained but the building was gutted inside.
The current courthouse building was rebuilt using the 1906 exterior façade and still bears the 1906 cornerstone. Today a time capsule to be opened in 2105 rests within the cornerstone space. A west wing was added in 1974 and major renovations and improvements occurred in 1974, 1978 and 1987. The Garland County Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 6, 1979. As with any old building, the years can take a toll. Toward the mission of preserving this grand old courthouse, the Friends of the Courthouse was established.
The Friends of the Garland County Courthouse wish to thank the Garland County Historical Society for preserving this history.