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Museum building and Zinc bridge
added to National Register
May 8, 2007
Harrison High School building
Historic photograph of the Harrison High School building
By Greg Waters / Special to BCHRS.org

Two historic Boone County structures were recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The State Review Board of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) in Little Rock formally approved nominations for the 1912 Harrison High School building in Harrison, and the Zinc Swinging Bridge at Zinc. Both were officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places January 24.

"This is exciting news and a giant step towards better things happening," said Norman Rowe, president of the Boone County Historical & Railroad Society. "Hopefully this will open up new avenues of financial help to have this building put in better condition."

Rowe's society sponsors and operates the Boone County Heritage Museum, which is housed in the historic High School building at the corner of Central and Cherry in Harrison.
Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture.
In addition to historical significance and prestige, the National Register listings also allow the structures to qualify for grant money to be used in their preservation, restoration and maintenance.
The latest Boone County listings were the result of nearly two years of effort.
In the spring of 2005, the Harrison Board of Education gave the Historical Society permission to apply for the building's placement on the National Register. Since the school district still owns the building and leases it to the museum, some property and usage issues had to first be reviewed before formally proceeding.
Nita Gould
The effort gained momentum in 2006 when Historical Society member Nita Gould volunteered to handle the entire AHPP application process on behalf of the museum.

"The Harrison High School is one of the most historic buildings in Boone County," explained Gould. "This building is significant not only because it was such an important school, but also because of its unique architecture. It continues to play important historical and educational roles as the home of the Heritage Museum."

Adding that it was her honor to help the building receive the national recognition that it deserves, Gould said she was thrilled that it was a successful endeavor. "It is my sincere hope that this will pave the way for future funding opportunities from many different sources, making it possible for Boone County's history to remain alive in Harrison."
Gould, a preservation enthusiast who lives in Tulsa, had first-hand experience with the AHPP and the National Register listing process. In January 2004, she was successful in listing the home of her grandparents. Built in 1917, the one-story Folk Victorian style Elliott & Anna Barham House in Zinc was restored by Gould and her brother, Stephen Campbell, prior to being awarded its National Register listing.
For the High School building nomination, Gould worked with Rowe and Marilyn Breece of the Heritage Museum, as well as others to research and accurately document the history of the structure. Gould also collaborated with Marion Newman, longtime resident and former mayor of Zinc, to trace the history and architecture of the Zinc Swinging Bridge.
Several months of extensive research culminated with a completed Determination of Eligibility (DOE) request for the historic High School building. Gould's 21-page formal report, including a five-page bibliography, was submitted to the AHPP on August 11, 2006.
Gould's report included the architectural history of the building's construction and alterations, as well as an in-depth historical narrative on Boone County schools. Sections on the creation of Harrison and Boone County, lands donated and sold for education, wooden schoolhouses on donated land, and Harrison's first brick public school were also included in the DOE, along with the history of state aid provided by the Arkansas State Board of Education that directly led to the construction of Harrison High School building in 1912.
Following Gould's DOE submission, Ralph Wilcox, AHPP National Register Survey Coordinator, Joanna Hall, AHPP National Register Historian, and Sarah Jampole, AHPP Survey Historian, toured the Heritage Museum on September 5, 2006 to conduct a site survey. The team took numerous photographs of the building and discussed its history with Rowe, Breece, Gould and others. The team gave a favorable assessment, and the building's nomination was forwarded to the AHPP State Review Board for further consideration.
On November 9, 2006, Brian Driscoll, the AHPP Technical Services Coordinator, visited Boone County to conduct a thorough architectural evaluation of both structures.
Rowe met with Driscoll's team and gave them a tour of the old High School building. "It has actually been quite well cared for over the years," Driscoll said of the structure. "I did see evidence of overflowing gutters in some areas, and it looks as though the gutters are rather small for the area they have to serve. I suggested that larger gutters and additional downspouts would help to eliminate the overflow problem."
Other signs of wear and tear on the 95-year-old building were also noted during the inspection. "The other problem we identified was the deteriorated mortar in select areas of the building, especially the upper portions of the flue stacks," said Driscoll. "Both of these can be addressed by contractors, who should be able to provide accurate cost estimates."
Zinc Swinging Bridge
The swinging bridge in Zinc was also inspected and evaluated during Driscoll's visit. Marion Newman showed the bridge to the Preservation Program team, and provided them with additional information on the bridge's history.
As the oldest known surviving suspension bridge in Arkansas, the Zinc Swinging Bridge is especially unique because it is a pedestrian bridge. It was nominated to the National Register for its distinctive engineering and design, and for its associations with the development of transportation networks in Zinc.
"The problem that concerns me most is the crack in one of the concrete piers," Driscoll said of the swinging bridge. "Once appropriate repair methods are identified, a contractor could then provide estimates for accomplishing the work, and those estimates could be used in the grant application."
While in Zinc, Driscoll and his team also took a look at the old Zinc Community Building. Constructed around 1910, this historic property has certainly seen its better days. However, its future eligibility consideration remains a strong possibility. Said Driscoll, "Personally, if there is one historic property in this town that should be kept, it should be this one."
Gould will most likely pursue a National Register nomination for the Zinc Community Building as well as some other Boone County properties in the future.
A few weeks after their visit, the State Review Board of the AHPP approved nominations for both the Harrison High School building and the Zinc Swinging Bridge on December 6, 2006. Gould then took the next step by preparing the final documentation required by the National Park Service, which is a part of the United States Department of Interior.
The AHPP reviewed the documents and forwarded them to the National Park Service, with their recommendation for approval. The properties were then approved at the national level, and the official National Register listings followed a few weeks later.
Both properties are now eligible to apply for Historic Preservation Restoration Grants (HPRG). According to information from the AHPP's Department of Arkansas Heritage, HPRG funds of $10,000 or more may be available to fund approved restoration projects for properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Click here to learn more about the history of the 1912 Harrison High School building.
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