Benton, Arkansas: World's Only Building Made of Bauxite

1893 three-room building was the office of Dr. Dewell Gann, Sr. and is the only known bauxite building in existence.

Gann Building and Museum

Address:
218 S. Market St, Benton, AR
Directions:
S Market, just north of Smith St. on the east side of street.
Hours:
Tu-Th 10 am - 4 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
501-778-5513
Admission:
Free.
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Bauxite Building. Building Made of Bauxite

From the historical marker sign in front of the Gann Building and Museum: "Built in 1893, the office of Dr. Dewell Gann, Sr. is the only known bauxite building in existence. The building was constructed by patients who could not afford to pay for services he rendered them. The soft stone was dug from a farm near by, sawn into blocks with a handsaw and allowed to harden for six weeks. The building served as the Gann Medical Office until 1946 when it was given by Dr. Dewell Gann, Jr. to the city of Benton to be used as a library and later a museum."

They say good things come in small packages, and if you are an architecture buff you will really enjoy your visit to this little gem. The original building consisted of 3 rooms: a waiting room for the ladies, a waiting room for the gentlemen, and doctor's office. The two waiting rooms had their own entry doors, separated from each other with an interior wall. The small doctor's office at the back was used for everything the doctor found medically necessary, including surgery.

Inside the bauxite structure, the city has established a museum with many items of significance and local interest. I particularly enjoyed the examples of bauxite from around the world. And, this was my first introduction to Niloak Pottery. Our visit would not have been nearly as enjoyable or informative if it had not been for the museum's wonderful director. His vast knowledge of the Benton area, the Gann family, and the history of this beautiful bauxite building were much appreciated.

[Gary Epperson, 09/08/2011]

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April 23, 2014

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