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the historic courthouse and current visitor center
Historic Washington State Park
Closest available address
305 Carroll Street Washington, AR 71862
8-5, closed holidays
Best time to visit
Historic Washington State Park is located in southwest Arkansas and preserves 54 homes and buildings. Park personnel dressed in period 1800s attire staff various buildings and provide demonstrations of crafts and industries of pioneer life.
Founded in 1824, Washington was an important town on a major trail to Texas. Prominent figures in the Texas War of Independence lived here or passed through. The city also served briefly as the capital of Arkansas during the US Civil War when Little Rock was occupied by Union forces. Early preservation efforts to restore the town’s courthouse began in 1929. The state park was established in 1973.
The visitor center, which is located in the brick courthouse, offers maps of the park’s buildings and staff locations. The courthouse courtroom is located upstairs. Other buildings in the park can bee seen by walking to various locations where staff demonstrate and discuss life in the 1800s. Options typically include a candle shop, printer, doctor’s office, blacksmith, weaver and a frontier log cabin. The printer and log cabin are interesting and informative. There also is an impressive collection of historic firearms at a small museum.
This park slightly resembles Colonial Williamsburg, however it is not as well preserved and there are modern homes in Washington, which diminishes the historical experience. A visit will mostly appeal to those who want a more basic and casual perspective of the past. With a mix of demonstrations and discussions, the park is a good choice for most families. Special events such as dinners and classes are also offered and are listed on the park’s website.
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