Bozarth Building/Grabills

Bozarth Building/Grabills

Tour Stop 17

Bozarth Building/Grabills

Believe it or not, parts of the building behind the marble towers date to 1878. Originally a 2-story brick building built by William Bozarth, it has housed boots & shoes, books, confectionary, notions, furniture, groceries, barber shop and clothing on the first floor. Buie's Brunswick Billiard Hall was on the second floor, followed later by Grabill's and then Sowder's Photography Studio.

It was heavily remodeled by FW Woolworth in 1936 and they were located here until moving to the southwest corner of the Square in 1961. The current façade was added in 1998 when the top floor of the building was converted into a private condominium.

As to the rest of this block, there were four 2-story buildings and one 3-story building where this large modern 5-story skyscraper is today, including the original home of the McIlroy Bank built in 1872. They were all replaced by this new bank building designed by Paul Young, Jr. in 1977.

On the left was the T.W. Wade Building, built on the site of the Cox Drugstore which was the last wooden building on the square until it burned in 1923. It housed a Piggly Wiggly grocery store, then Price- Patton clothing and Silverman's Jewelry. Next to it was the 1893 J.L. Duke Jewelry Store and an earlier home of Silverman's Jewelry. In the middle was the 1872 McIlroy Bank building. To the right of that was the 1904 Red Cross Drug Store, and on the end was the 1901 McIlroy Dry Goods Building which housed the Boston Store when it burned in 1932 and was replaced with a large Art Deco style building.

The Red Cross Drug Store lasted from 1904 to 1955. Mel Collier took over the business in 1943 and it later became the popular local chain of Collier's Drug Stores.

The Boston Store sold the fanciest goods of any store on the square. There was quite the gold rush when they tore down the old wooden 1867 McIlroy-VanHoose building to build the brick McIlroy Building in 1900. Workers digging the foundation hit a large hoard of gold coins hidden during the Civil War, and there was a mad scramble to pick up the coins and run off.

Speaking of money, banking in the state was illegal from 1846 to 1868 due to the disastrous failure of the privately owned Real Estate Bank and the state- owned Arkansas State Bank. Privately-issued scrip was used instead. Denton Stark opened a bank at this spot in 1872, and it became McIlroy Bank in 1875 when Mr. Stark made some bad loans and was indicted for embezzlement, costing his partner Wil- liam McIlroy $40,000 in 1875 dollars to make right.

William McIlroy's farm is now the site of the University of Arkansas. When he died in 1886, all businesses and schools were closed for his funeral. His son James Hayden McIlroy became a major civic leader, contractor, builder, and banker.

A fixture in Fayetteville for over a hundred years that was run by four generations of McIlroys, the business was purchased by Jim Walton's Arvest Bank in 1986.


Photo Courtesy of: Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville
History provided by: Gary Coover, Coover Consultants

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