Downtown Judsonia Arkansas was not lucky during the 1952 tornado.

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Advantage

The last blog was about the mansion in Judsonia that stood strongly through the 1952 Judsonia AR tornado.  Driving through downtown Judsonia will show you some buildings that didn't make it very well but still stand.  This one could be turned into an abstract painting because it has so much muted color and fascinating details.  Take a look.

Judsonia building

Can't you just visualize it when it was a store or a movie house or a gathering place of some kind? Here's the side view.

Judsonia AR building

And for our artistic closeup, study this one.  I lowered the resolution for this blog but in high resolution photography it is beautiful.  Perhaps the Searcy Sleuths can tell us what this used to be.

closeup Judsonia building

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1952 judsonia tornado

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Rainer
20,243
Luke Jones
Garver - Little Rock, AR

I don't know anything about the history of this building, but I have always enjoyed its ruinous textures. Nextdoor, however, you'll notice corrugated red steel covering what was once an important business to Judsonia folks. Wonder what it was?

 

(Hint: It was a movie theater)

Aug 24, 2011 02:28 AM #1
Rainer
246,721
Don Thompson
Donthomp Associates - Sunnyvale, CA

The tornado occured at 5:34:06 p.m. on March 21, 1952. The time came from a stopped electric clock found at the scene.

These pics were taken by W. Irving Skipper on March 22nd and shows the wreckage beside the building pictured above.  William Ewing Orr wrote a book That's Judsonia that has an account of the tornado.

 

Judsonia 1952


Here's another view. The pictures were taken March 22nd and Harold Gene Sullivan and I were among the folks in town that day  when Boy Scouts were handing out blankets etc for those in need. Harold was a scout but I was not.

Judsonia 1952 2

Stay tuned as the investigation continues.

Aug 24, 2011 03:44 AM #2
Rainer
20,243
Luke Jones
Garver - Little Rock, AR

Orr's book ("That's Judsonia!") has a really excellent description of the events from that day in the chapter called "The Terrible Twilight."

Aug 24, 2011 04:06 AM #3
Rainmaker
1,043,881
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

Luke, I love the term ruinous textures!  Those textures are so much more interesting than the corrugated steel next door.  And the theater was behind the corrugated steel?  Interesting!  BTW, if you didn't read the account from the lady who lived through it, do it as soon as you have time.  It is so vivid.  I guess I need to buy Orr's book.

Don, thanks for adding the great pictures.  I hope we can find out what the building held.

 

Aug 24, 2011 07:08 AM #4
Anonymous
Anita Fuller

I've been too busy today to look at these pictures and try to think.  At 6:30 a.m. this morning, Bob and I were awakened to a loud bang and "something" hitting our outside bedroom wall.  We were having a horrendous storm, and a tree had broken in two (in three actually) and fallen on our house.  Later, surveying the damage found another smaller tree (much smaller) had blown down and is on the roof of our little library building.   Insurance adjuster and tree service on their way - but WHEN only the Shadow Knows.

It looks like it could have been a movie theater, or a little grocery store.  Good luck finding Orr's book.

Aug 24, 2011 10:01 AM #5
Rainmaker
1,043,881
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

Anita!  That's terrible! You must send me pictures of the tree for our blog.  Remember we've had a lot of blogs with trees getting revenge.  I'm glad you were not hurt.

Aug 24, 2011 10:07 AM #6
Rainer
246,721
Don Thompson
Donthomp Associates - Sunnyvale, CA

I find it interesting that the lot beside the building remains vacant. The address is about 206 Van Buren Ave. The building to the left is the fire department.

206 Van Buren Ave b

 

It is noteworthy that one structure that was untouched was the Methodist Church.

Methodist Church

Aug 24, 2011 12:15 PM #7
Rainmaker
1,043,881
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

Don, are you sure about that?  I always thought the church looked redone at the top.  It should have better lines that that front gable and two mismatched towers.  I figured the top got blown off and they repaired as best they could.  A few blocks away is a house that has an upstairs but a very short upstairs.  Seems the top of it got damaged and they repaired as best they could.  Years ago I was showing it to a guy who was about 6' tall.  We went upstairs and the ceiling was about 6'.  Needless-to-say, I didn't make a sale.

 

Aug 24, 2011 02:13 PM #8
Rainer
246,721
Don Thompson
Donthomp Associates - Sunnyvale, CA

Barbara, I'm only reporting what is said in Wikipedia about Judsonia here.

On the evening of March 21, 1952, tornadoes swept Arkansas leaving 111 dead. Fifty of those fatalities were in Judsonia and the near vicinity. It was reported that the only building in the town not damaged was the Methodist church, which stands today in the city's downtown area along Van Buren Street.

It's been 59 years so the church could have had repairs from normal wear.

Aug 25, 2011 01:47 AM #9
Rainmaker
1,043,881
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

Don, who can argue with wikipedia if they are no smarter than I am.  You....that's who!!  I'm just letting the artist in me come out and say that church is not pretty and it probably once was!  Why can't some Sleuths give us the real truth.  : )

Mary, Anita can get really mean when she gets mad.  LOL

 

Aug 25, 2011 02:09 AM #10
Rainer
20,243
Luke Jones
Garver - Little Rock, AR

Orr's book talks about how people huddled in the church because it was the only shelter. But Barbara, I think you're right in that some changes have taken place since the church was built.

 

Aug 25, 2011 03:23 AM #11
Anonymous
Rick

That building is indeed the old movie house/theatre. There used to be some old movie posters still hanging on the wall inside. When I was little kid my Dad told me the story of the tornado and we checked out this old movie theatre. You could see the posters still on the wall at that time (early 60's).

My Dad lived through that tornado when he was 15yrs. old. His Dad, Daniel Pearl Green wasn't as lucky. They were playing pool in the pool house down the street when the storm came up. Daniel Green worked at the old box factory down by the river and my dad used to pick strawberry's when he lived there.

 

Dec 22, 2011 02:46 AM #12
Rainmaker
1,043,881
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

Here is a comment from the owner of the property.  I have his permission to post it.

I ran across these on your website...I cant tell you how much I enjoy browsing them...These pics are of my fathers propane/butane business..Evans Zero Gas...We were there right before storm hit..Dad suggested we go home early because it looked stormy...I rode my bike home (I was 8 years old) and just as soon as I reached the front door the tornado hit..We lived about 3 houses down on same side of street as the Henson Mansion..Its something I will never forget...Dad moved his business to Searcy after storm in the building on race that now houses Shipley Donuts..My sister and I still own it...Again very special thanks for all the memories...Don Evans
Jul 02, 2012 02:32 AM #13
Anonymous
Mike Monday

The building next door was the Judd theater

Nov 27, 2013 03:08 AM #14
Anonymous
Daniel Butler

The corrugated covered building was old theater , the balcony and some seats still there. Presently owned by local siding and window contractor as a warehouse.

Mar 19, 2015 01:35 PM #15
Rainmaker
1,043,881
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

Daniel Butler, thanks for the information. 

Mike Monday, thanks also for your information.

Mar 19, 2015 10:01 PM #16
Anonymous
Stan Bennett

I lived in Judsonia in the 1940's. Here is a link to some more photos and one of a girl standing in front of the Judd theater. I saw a few B western movies inthat old theater. Admission was 15 cents, popcorn 5 cents, a small bottle of Coca Cola was 5 cents as well.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Judsonia+Ar.+Judd+theater+images&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

Oct 13, 2017 03:13 AM #17
Rainmaker
1,043,881
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR

Stan, thanks for that link. The pictures were very good.

Oct 13, 2017 05:24 AM #18
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Barbara S. Duncan

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