A Stroll Down Memory Lane...
Although archaeologists believe ...
"that humans first came to Arkansas some 10,000 to 11,500 years ago; it was not until the expedition of Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto in 1541 that Europeans first arrived in the area."
So began the history of Arkansas and later, our city of Benton, which first became a settlement in 1833. Arkansas became a state in 1836 and Benton was formally chartered at that time, named after Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri.
The city was laid out in blocks and lots, with lots selling for $30 each. The original plat was filed along with 120 deeds, and included a public square and streets. The money raised from the sale of lots was used to construct public buildings. The Saline Crossing Post Office was moved to Benton in 1836.
The Royal Theatre
The Royal Theatre in Benton has been the hub of entertainment in Saline County for nine decades and continues a viable role in the community as a center for the performing arts.
The two-story brick structure, built in 1920, served as a movie theater until the 1990s.
Now a venue for live theater, it is home base for the Royal Players, a community theater organization that presents entertainment throughout the year. The structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the country's official registry of historically significant properties, and it has been a visible landmark in Downtown Benton for generations.
First known as the IMP, Alice Wooten, the original owner, sold the structure to Wallace and Lena Kauffman in 1922. Following a 1949 remodeling, the name was changed to the Royal.
In 1974 Wallace Kauffman relinquished control of the theater to his son, Warren Lee Kauffman and his wife Mildred. In 1986 Warren Lee passed ownership to his son, Randy Kauffman, who continued to manage it until 1996 when he sold it to actor Jerry Van Dyke.
From 1996 to 2000, Jerri Lynn Van Dyke played an integral role in the management of the theater. In 2000 Jerry Van Dyke gave the theater to the Central Arkansas Community Players, which immediately changed its name to Royal Players.
Restoring the old theater to its former glory is a goal of the Royal Players, which is accepting donations for the ongoing effort.
Information about ongoing productions of The Royal Players is available at theroyalplayers.com .
The Shoppach House
The Historic Shoppach House is one of the oldest structures in Central Arkansas. Located at 508 North Main Street, in Benton, the Shoppach House was built in 1853, and was the first brick house to be constructed in Saline County. The bricks for the home were made on site.
In April 1861, Saline County’s Company E, First Arkansas Infantry, Confederate States Army, was presented with a flag from the front porch of the Shoppach house. The flag was made by the ladies of Benton and presented to their men as they marched out of Benton to Little Rock, and eventually on to Virginia to participate in the Battle of Manassas and subsequently other battles.
When Benton was occupied by the Union Army in 1863, the officers took quarters in the Shoppach House. It remains practically unchanged since it was built.The Historic Shoppach House was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
The Sons of Confederate Veteran's held their 11th Annual Gun and Relic Show Saturday, September 13th at the Shoppach House in Benton.