Tour Stop 31
Wolf BuildingThe building to the west was the tallest commercial building in Fayetteville for nearly 60 years, and was built by a young man whose career resembled that of a shooting star.
Artemus Floyd Wolf, known as A.F. Wolf, moved to Fayetteville in 1903. His main business was in developing townsites along the Frisco railroad, mostly in the rapidly developing Indian Territory that would become Oklahoma. He quickly became active in business and civic affairs here, and was elected to City Council and at one time was even the athletic manager for the University of Arkansas. He also sold over a thousand lots in one day at the Monte Ne townsite in Rogers.
Wolf is the guy who purchased the Arkansas State Building at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair and had it dismantled and re-assembled on top of Mt. Nord for his private residence. Here, in 1906 he had contractor Albert M. Byrnes build "one of the handsomest blocks in the city", known as the Wolf Building.
When the 1869 Courthouse was sold to be torn down, he bought it and put the keystone on his building facing the square – an early effort of historic preservation.
The first floor contained the C.C. Conner Grocery Company, the second floor held Wolf's offices and the Fayetteville Commercial College, and the third floor was occupied by the Masonic Lodge and other civic organizations. The Masons remained in this building for nearly 60 years until they built a new building in 1973.
Unfortunately, Wolf became overextended, and the Bank Panic of 1907 certainly didn't help. His health failed and he died in 1910 owing a lot of money at only 34 years of age.
In 1936 the City of Fayetteville purchased the building for their administrative offices and hired architect T. Ewing Shelton to renovate the first floor, second floor and basement. Shelton removed the pediment and small square tower on top of the building and added the limestone archway at the entrance that we see today. A lot of the interior woodwork and fixtures came from the 1892 Jackson County courthouse in Kansas City that was being dismantled at the time.
City offices were on the first floor, and for 25 years the second floor was the Public Library.
In 1984, the local architectural firm of Hailey Powers Froning was hired to do a massive renovation of the building – changing out all the windows and completely gutting the interior. They incorporated the original decorative iron columns and re-used many of the tin ceiling panels, and also created a new grand staircase that looks old, but it really isn't.
Photo Courtesy of: Speece & Aaron, Photographers. Courtesy Shiloh Museum of Ozark History / Washington County Historical Society Collection (P-5)
History provided by: Gary Coover, Coover Consultants