The Elkhorn Barbershop Again

I wrote my Master's thesis on a Bentonville business, the Elkhorn Barber Shop and the people who worked there and used the shop not only for a shave and a haircut but as the local meeting place.

The original shop was on South Main at the back of the People's Bank, but soon moved around the corner to Central, on the south side of the square, where the Chamber of Commerce is now located.

This is the way I remember it:

It was honestly exactly like this in the late 60's and early 70's...only the people and the cars changed.


The main reason I started writing about it was because my grandfather was a barber there for the last few years of a career that started in 1919. He worked in the chair by the window looking out onto the square from 1966 to 1976. 



 An article from the Springdale Daily News from May 8, 1974 said the following:

"Horton remembers driving to the local picture show in a buggy some fifty years ago (around 1925) because “that was the only transportation I had at the time.” He estimated that during that era a shave cost about fifteen cents and a haircut twenty-five cents. “Times certainly have changed,” the tobacco chewing Hiwasse resident declared, while relaxing in a vacant barber chair at the close of another business day."

He died in 2004 at the age of 99, but only after my grandmother, his wife of 73 years, preceded him in death by five weeks.

I will always remember getting my haircut there, especially in the 70's when long hair was "in." He HATED long hair on men (or boys) but he trimmed it anyway and then I left to walk up the street to Gus' News Stand for a comic book. Sure do miss him sometimes...


Mid Town Shopping Center - Walton's and Phillips Food Center

As I was mentioning on the first page of the blog, Mid Town Shopping Center was the hub of activity in the 60's and 70's. I remember when I was young Walton's Department Store was on the west end. When you went in the farthest west door you were walking into sporting goods. Toward the back and then right you went up a ramp and into the dry good part of the store. Of course we went there for everything - cause if they didn't have it, you didn't need it! There were a couple of ladies who worked there - I don't remember their names - but I think they stayed with the company for years and even moved out into the store on North Walton when it was built in the late 70's. Next door was Phillips Food Center. Harlon Phillips was the owner and he was in the store quite often. He would greet EVERY customer with a "Hi there! how are you today?" It was the same with the employees, as I worked for him when he opened Food 4 Less on North Walton next to Wal-Mart. If someone needed a price check, often Mr. Phillips would know the price off the top of his head. A great guy and a genius of the grocery business. His wife would come in often too and was so elegant. Nice people to work for.

In the earlier years there was a restaurant in the back of Phillips. My Aunt Martha used to be a waitress there for a while. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother on NW 2nd street and we rode our bikes all over town, of course, and spent a lot of time in Walton's and Phillips'.


Not a great picture, but you get the idea!

Later, in the late 70's, both companies moved to North Walton - here are the aerial views:

 There was a gas station added out front later.




Here's the old Food 4 Less building. The old Kentucky Fried Chicken is in the foreground.

Both buildings were remodeled and are now WalMart Transportation and Logistics Buildings. WalMart bought out Mr. Phillips in about 1982

The lot that Mid Town now occupies has been a busy spot for many years. The county courthouse sat on the corner of Main and 2nd in front of the current buildings.

The courthouse was built in 1874, one of the first things we could accomplish after Reconstruction following the Civil War.

Later after it was torn down for the "new" court house in 1928, the Hotel Bentonville and the Crosstown Restaurant were on the corner, as was a bus stop.














 Now we are preparing for the new Harps being built on North Walton and 13th. The old buildings will be torn down to make way for retail shops, a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, and a parking garage.

Once again Downtown Bentonville will remake itself for the betterment of the community.

First Lot Owners in Bentonville

The City of Bentonville was platted out at statehood when Bentonville became the county seat. Some of the first owners were recorded in 1837.

A list of these can be found here:

and can be coordinated with the map found here:

This information is Copyright 2008 by Nancy Feroe, who compiled it from the county records. i have not copied any of it here in lieu of permission from Ms. Feroe but I don't think she will mind her website being linked through mine. She has a lot of interesting information about Benton County. You should take a look...

Movie Tragedy Takes Life of Young Employee

Benton County Record, October 22, 1942

Cause of Accident Which Takes Life of One Unknown:

Tragedy more grim than had ever been enacted on the silver screen of a Bentonville moving picture theater took place in the projectionists' booth about 10 o'clock Tuesday night and brought horrible death to Miss Joyce Madsen, 21, projectionist.

Exact cause of the accident which took the girl's life was unknown. It occurred while she was threading one of the machines of the Royal Theater prepartory to rewinding a reel of film shortly after the first show of the evening. She was believed to have been killed instantly when the film she was handling seemed to explode between her and the single exit of the room, knocking her down and trapping her.

Her brother, Lyle Madsen, whom she was assisting in the booth, suffered painful injuries about the hands, arms, and head when he attempted to close both the film containers of the machines and smother the flames. The raging flames blew them both open, however, and spread over the room. Both he and another brother, Keith, in the room at the time were unable to reach their sister, and were finally forced from the room by the burning and exploding film. Attempts to rescue the girl from the skylight of the room were likewise unsuccessful.

The fire department was called but it was not until 45 minutes later that the body was carried from the flame swept booth.

All of the projection equipment was destoryed, including two projection machines and 14,000 feet of film. Fire was confined solely to the booth.

The Old "Opera House" on the Bentonville Square


Taken from J. Dickson Black's "History of Benton County"

"The old Opera House building which stood on the northeast corner of the square in Bentonville, was taken down in 1962 to make way for the Bank of Bentonville. (now Arvest - Larry)

The Opera building, as it was called for years, was built a year or so after the bad fire of the winter of 1880-81, which burned most of the north side of the square. But there is no date as to when it was built. "

The lot was originally sold by T.M. Duckworth to James Caldwell on April 3, 1849. It was just part of a trasaction in which Caldwell bought several hundred acres. in 1872, R. N. Corley sold this lot to J. D. Harston for $900, a price which would indicate that there was some kind of a building here then. A year later J. T. and C.R. Craig bought the lot.

Black says that he had been unable to find out who had the opera house built, but in talking to Jim Craig in 1960 he said that he could remember his father talking about having rented it for plays or programs at the time he and Jim's grandfather owned the place.

Col. Sam Peel owned the building in the late 1880's and it changed hands many times over the years.



"People in Bentonville saw all types of vaudeville and stage shows here. It is said that after the railroad came (1882) some of the best acts in the country stopped and made a one-night show here. Throughout the year there would be programs. As on the night of February 3, 1888 when there was a band benefit concert by Alex Black's band, a local group with other short acts to fill in. Alex Black's cornet solo of the Lauterback Waltz and a violin solo, The Last Rose of Summer...were highlights of the program that played to a full house. On August 31, 1892, Richards and Pringle brought their famous minstrel show here for a on-night stand. The Famous Georgias, as it was called, was the only legitimate all-colored minstrel show in the country." (please - Mr. Black's language, not mine!)

"The night of January 2, 1893 was a benefit night. The program was put on by the children and parents of the 'colored school.' They were raising money to repair the roof of the school. Price was 25 cents for adults and 15 cents for children, and this included a light lunch."

"Another highlight in the entertainment world here at the opera house was the political speeches. If the weather was bad they would hold the rally here. The oldtimers say that these old time politicians had a lot more wind and talked longer than a candidate does today.

In 1898, along came a new and different entertainment that was (known as) the Chautauqua era, and for a few years each summer you could hear a lecture, band music, singing, oratory, or amybe a little of each if you stayed for the whole program.

I (Black) found no one who could remember what the inside of the opera house was like at first. The building was two stories and there were two business rooms in the front at ground level. You went in from the front and upstairs. Some think that the inside was all balcony and it looked down at the stage that was in the back of the building..."

"Sometime around 1900 the building was remodeled. The upstairs had a stage a seats; the downstairs was made into a store. At one time Jackson's Grocery was here. In 1914, the Ozark Trails Garage moved in downstairsin place of the store, and it stayed here until about 1921. It was run by Ed. Pace and Clyde Adams.

The Mo-Hawk Dance Club was held here upstairs every Saturday night frm about 1911 to 1914. At that time there was a stairway outside the east side of the building. In 1914 the building was condemned and they stopped using the upstairs.

During World War I the US Government used the upstairs as an armory. The 142nd Field Artillery was stationed here for some time. they slept upstairs and drilled in the street in front of the building.

About 1922 the building was bought by M. J. Kilburn who had it rebuilt into a movie picture house. The entrance was again moved to the front of the building. The inside had a stage downstairs and seats down, as well as up in the balcony. There were two small rooms in the front that opened onto the street in front of the building. These were rented for small cafes or real estate offices. The big outside balcony was taken down and a marquee was put up. The building was used as a theater until a few years before it was taken down. The last few years before the building was razed, it was used only for storage."

Now me - this was one of four movie theaters that the town had at one time or another. If I remember correctly, this was known as the Royal. There was also the Cozy, which was in the spot where the Station Cafe is now. Then in the Blevins Building which was later Black's Clothing Store was originally the Meteor theater. Then when I was young it was the Plaza, which was (and is) still located on the corner of West Central and A.


                          The Plaza Theater - 273-2222 for those of you who remember


The Meteor Theater, on the left. About 1920.