In a departure from the usual building materials utilized by Silas Owens, Sr., the mason produced a building that revealed the minimal lines of mid-twentieth century architecture that would soon become prolific on the World War II cottage and Ranch styles.
Earl and Mildred Fason-Ward both hailed from Conway and after their marriage they initially lived there on Locust Street. In 1949 the couple built a home together on Mitchell Street, hiring Silas Owens, Sr., to do the rockwork.
Ward requested that the masonry veneer be composed of granite from the Boone County town of Zinc rather than the traditional sandstone that Owens employed. The Twin Groves mason was up to the task; however, he favored sandstone as far as aesthetics and ease of handling. The Ward House is the only granite Mixed Masonry by Owens that has been documented thus far and one of only two noted in Conway. Silas Owens, Jr., noted that his father’s dislike of working with such stone likely resulted in this being a rare example. Most granite Mixed Masonries may be found in northeast Arkansas and many of those are trimmed with red brick, rather than the cream type found on the Ward House.
Earl Ward was employed as a barber at the OK Barber Shop in Conway and his daughter, Earline, who currently resides in the house, felt that her father likely got information about Silas Owens’ abilities as a mason from customers in the shop. His well known reputation as a fair and qualified businessman and mason persuaded Ward to hire him.
Earl retired from the barber shop in 1979 and lived with Mildred in the house on Mitchell Street until his death in 1993. Mildred continued to live there until she passed away in 2004. Their daughter Earline, one of three children, currently lives in the home.
The Earl and Mildred Ward House at 1157 Mitchell Street in Conway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 19, 2005. The history of the 1949 building is recounted in the nomination.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
The Earl Ward House, built in the late 1940s was on the cusp of a mid-twentieth century architectural revolution. The small, low lines of the house with central, gabled front porch hails from the Craftsman style; however, the extended side gable, large stationary picture window and horizontal muntins of the double-hung windows hint at the beginnings of the World War II cottage style that gave way to the longer, Ranch style. The home is unaltered except for the replacement of the picture window, which had suffered a crack, with the current three-light opening in 1999. The Earl Ward House in Conway, Faulkner County, Arkansas is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places with local significance under Criterion C as an excellent example of an Craftsman influenced Mixed Masonry, and as the only granite type constructed by Silas Owens, Sr. The nomination is also being submitted under the multiple property context, “A Storm Couldn’t Tear Them Down: The Mixed Masonry Buildings of Silas Owens, Sr., 1938-1955.”