Oark General Store
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Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
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Oark, Johnson, East of Highway 215
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1890 Commercial structure

Listed in Arkansas Register of Historic Places on 03/03/95


Due to the topography in and around Oark, it has traditionally been a community isolated from the rest of the state. Until the benefits of modern transportation became readily available, even the nearby town of Clarksville was often inaccessible to most Oark citizens. Therefore the Oark General Store played a vital role in its community, as it provided the townspeople with luxuries and necessities that otherwise would have been unattainable for the Oark populace. In addition, the store gave Oark a central meeting place and a market for local crop and timber products. Early settlers who became trappers in Oark also used the store to sell their furs to buyers coming down the Mulberry River.

Probably built sometime before 1890, the Oark General Store most likely served as a post office in the early twentieth-century. The date of its inception and the fact that the building served as a post office are not historically documented, but their veracity has been corroborated by long-time Oark residents, Orville and Delmar Robinson. According to local knowledge, F.M. Nelson built the store after purchasing the property in 1889. Lottie Morgan of Clarksville states that in 1903 her great-grandfather was postmaster of the Oark post office, which was in the general store. The store is not mentioned in the deed until 1923, but the consensus among locals is that it was built before 1890.

The Oark General Store is ineligible for the National Register because of the numerous changes its exterior has undergone throughout its existence. The interior of the building retains many historic features, such as original wood flooring and ceiling coverings and it is thought to be a link to the days of Oark's settlement. For these reasons it is being nominated to the Arkansas Register under Criterion A for its association with the early settlement of Oark.


Information submitted by Bessie Abercrombie, July 30, 1994.