LEPANTO, Ark. — Downtown Lepanto, Arkansas is still clouded in smoke from a Tuesday morning fire that destroyed a famous landmark.
A couple of spot fires, burned timbers and crumbled bricks is all that’s left of what folks around Lepanto called the Stuckey Brothers’ building.
“Our history starts early in Lepanto, the early 1900’s, late 1890’s,” said Fred Stuckey, grandson of the building’s original owners. “My grandfather came here to open a mercantile store in the early 1900’s.”
The fire, reported Tuesday morning, burned with such intensity Lepanto firefighters had to call for help from three neighboring towns.
Those additional crews were able to keep the fire from spreading to Barton’s Lumber Store, just a few feet from the flames, but there was little they could do to save the Stuckey Brothers’ building.
Harold Tyler, who now owns the building, says the original mercantile, or general store, was an important business for folks in Lepanto and this part of East Arkansas.
“They didn’t sell meat. ‘Salt’ meat was all they had,” Tyler said. “And the grocery store was always there until I guess in the 60’s when the grocery store shut down and then they moved insurance offices in there.”
All that’s left standing is the fire wall that separated the general store from a farm loan office in the same building.
But now a piece of history is gone from the downtown Lepanto landscape, one that Stuckey says, still has a unique 1900’s look that folks want to keep.
“Some buildings are decaying, but a lot of good people are fighting to keep them alive and keep our city alive,” Stuckey said.
The cause of the fire is unknown. No one was in the building, and no one was injured.