Welfare Era Postcards
In the 1920s the federal government turned the former jail/courthouse building over to the City of Fort Smith. They removed the jail cells and converted the space into offices. A wrought iron fence was placed around the building. During the Depression, the Welfare Office, Red Cross, Boys' Club, and other social services were housed here.
Painted on the northwest side of the building is "Fort Smith Federated Welfare Association." Off on the right-hand side, in front of the former jail building, is a slide.
This photo postcard, taken by McCann Photo Company of Fort Smith, shows the Fort Smith Federated Welfare Association building from the west side. Note the people swinging on the swing set on the front lawn.
The postcard leads one to believe that the gate in the foreground is part of the original fort. The Memorial Gateway was in fact built by the Daughters of the American Revolution to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Arkansas's statehood in 1936. It was supposedly modeled after the original fort wall and gate using historic materials.
Until 2000 the original site of the fort's northeast gate sat in the middle of Rogers Avenue and Third Street. This memorial gate was built closer to the buildings, near the corner of the streets.
To view additional postcards of Fort Smith, click on the small images on the right.
Did You Know?
A woman was responsible for the building of a modern federal jail at Fort Smith, AR, in 1888. Anna Dawes, daughter of Sen. Dawes of MA, visited the "Hell on the Border" jail in 1885 and wrote an article describing its conditions. When read in Congress, money was quickly approved for a new jail.