El Dorado News

October 22, 2018
El Dorado News Times

Memorial Stadium nominated for placement on National Register

By Tia Lyons
This article was published August 4, 2017 at 5:00 a.m.

By Tia Lyons

Staff Writer

An El Dorado landmark has been nominated for placement on the National Register of Historic Places, more than a year after having initially been deemed ineligible for the designation.

Due to changes that have taken place at Memorial Stadium in recent years, officials with the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program said in early 2016 that the property would not qualify for the National Register.

Changes to the 6,000-seat stadium — which was built in 1946 in honor of Union County servicemen who fought in World War II — within the past 15 years include the addition of synthetic turf for the football field and a band shell with aluminum bleachers on the southeast side of the stadium.

“Those are a couple things that have been hold-ups for stadiums,” said Elizabeth Eggleston, executive director of the El Dorado Historic District Commission, who ordered the architectural survey of the stadium and determination of eligibility process for the National Register.

Commissioners learned in January 2016 that the revisions to Memorial Stadium had affected its historical integrity.

“They said those are some of the same issues with other stadiums,” Eggleston said then.

At the time, AHPP officials said the facility was eligible for a listing on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places.

However, when the property was presented before the AHPP State Review Board on Tuesday by architectural surveyor/historian contractor Sandra Taylor Smith, board members reconsidered the nomination.

“In their opinion, they said the stadium should be eligible for the National Register,” Eggleston said.

She said AHPP officials had been expected to discuss the matter with the National Park Service.

Memorial Stadium was among several properties the historic district commission had been hoping to place on the National Register to create a new historic district in El Dorado.

The effort began in 2013 and by the following year, commissioners had narrowed the list down to 12 properties, half of which were clustered in the area of Fifth and Eighth streets between North West and Jefferson avenues.

The commission subsequently learned that some of the properties would qualify for a National Register nomination, others would be eligible for the Arkansas Register, and some would not qualify for either register.

Eventually making the National Register were two houses that were designed by late architect E. Fay Jones, who spent part of his childhood in El Dorado.

The Henley and Riley houses, 2523 and 2525 Calion Road, respectively, were listed earlier this year on the National Register as a small historic district.

Barton Library, 200 E. Fifth, and Rumph Mortuary — now Perry’s Funeral Chapels, 312 W. Oak — were also listed to the National Register.

The YWCA building, which now houses the local Boy Scouts of America program, 118 W. Peach, and the TAC House/American Legion building, 1101 N. West Ave., were recently added to the Arkansas Register.

Eggleston said she is working with Smith to provide the additional information to the State Review Board regarding the YWCA building.

“They wanted to know about what kind of activities they’ve had there. By Monday, we should have it to them,” she said.

The State Review Board will forward the nomination for Memorial Stadium to the National Park Service for final approval for the National Register.

The TAC House and Memorial Stadium are believed to have been built the same year. Both were designed by late architect John Abbott, founder of CADM Architecture, Inc.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.

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