See Rock City

See Rock City

Friday, September 19, 2008

Malvern, AR

Malvern is a city in, and the county seat of, Hot Spring County, Arkansas. The city had a population of 9,021 at the time of the 2000 census, and is also called the "Brick Capital of the World", due to the three Acme Brick plants in the area. Every year on the last weekend of June, Malvern hosts the Brickfest, an event that fills the city with music, food and activities that include a brick toss, brick car derby, and a best dressed brick contest. Malvern also hosts the Hot Spring County Fair and Rodeo each fall.

Malvern is home to several manufacturing companies including:

Acme Brick,

Acme Brick Company is an American manufacturer and distributor of brick and masonry-related construction products and materials. Founder, George E. Bennett (October 6, 1852 - July 3, 1907), chartered the company in Alton, Illinois as the 'Acme Pressed Brick Company' on April 17, 1891. The company grew to become the largest American-owned brick manufacturer by the mid-20th century, was the first of its type to offer a 100-year limited guarantee to its customers, and was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. on August 1, 2000.


Weyerhaeuser is one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world; the world's largest private owner of softwood timberland; and the second largest owner in the United States, behind International Paper. Weyerhaeuser has approximately 41,000 employees in 18 countries, including United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Ireland, France, and Uruguay.

Borden Chemical,

Hexion Specialty Chemicals

Hexion Specialty Chemicals, Inc. is a Fortune 500 company based in Columbus, Ohio that is the world’s largest producer of binder, adhesive, coating and ink resins for industrial applications.[citation needed] Hexion Specialty Chemicals is owned by an affiliate of the private investment firm Apollo Management LP.

Hexion was formed in 2005 through the merger of Borden Chemical, Inc., Resolution Performance Products LLC, and Resolution Specialty Materials LLC, and the acquisition of Bakelite AG.

Hexion retains control over the Elsie the Cow trademark and Borden name.

Hexion's German division (Hexion Specialty Chemicals GmbH) currently owns the German company Bakelite AG. The German company claims to own the trademark to Bakelite in a number of countries around the world, notably not including the United States, nor the European Union as a whole.

Hexion announced in July of 2007 that it was acquiring Huntsman Corp., a major specialties company, but the deal fell through on June 20, 2008.

Binding. Bonding. Coating. Leading.

Everyday, across the globe, Hexion Specialty Chemicals helps industry bind, bond and coat thousands of products that touch virtually every aspect of modern life. We’re the world leader in thermoset resins, so we can deliver the right technology and material for each application. We help customers across a broad range of industries bring improved products to market. Binding. Bonding. Coating. Leading. We’re Hexion.

Adams Face Veneer Company Inc,

Leggett & Platt Precision,

Leggett & Platt (L&P) (NYSE: LEG) is a Fortune 500 diversified manufacturer that conceives, designs and produces a broad variety of engineered components and products that can be found in virtually every home, office, retail store, and automobile. The company serves a broad suite of customers that comprise a "Who's Who" of U.S. manufacturers and retailers. The 125-year-old firm comprises 21 business units, 24,000 employee-partners, and more than 250 facilities located in over 20 countries.

The Platt Plow Works

Leggett & Platt is North America's leading independent manufacturer of:

Components for residential furniture and mattress sets
Retail store fixtures and point-of-purchase displays
Components for office furniture
Drawn steel wire
Automotive seat support and lumbar systems
Carpet underlay
Adjustable beds
Bedding industry machinery

Company History

J.P. Leggett

C.B. Platt

In 1883 in Carthage, Missouri, far removed from any major metropolitan or urban areas, a historical partnership began. J.P. Leggett, an inventor, initiated the partnership because he had developed an innovative bedspring. Mr. Leggett’s bedspring consisted of single cone spring wire coils, formed and interlaced in a unique manner, then mounted on a wood slat base. The bedspring could then be used as a resilient, durable base for the then-popular cotton, feather or horsehair mattresses. Needing expertise in manufacturing and production, he recruited his soon-to-be brother-in-law, C.B. Platt, whose father owned and operated Platt Plow Works, into the partnership. Together, they perfected the equipment necessary to produce the components of their Leggett & Platt bedspring, which was patented in 1885.

Bedspring vs. Innerspring

J.P. Leggett's original bedspring and patent

At the time of their invention, bedsprings referred to cone-shaped wire coiled springs, attached to a wooden slat foundation, used to support then-popular mattresses. These mattresses were typically made of horse hair, corn husks, cotton, feathers, or another soft material. Early bedsprings functioned similarly to today's box springs in their support of a mattress. However, box springs are rather rigid in structure, while bedsprings provide a more flexible surface.

Innerspring mattress components

Innersprings, by contrast, refer to the core system of wire springs that, along with various types of foam and other padding materials, comprise the insides of today's mattress. The mattress is usually coupled with a box spring to create a sleep set. Innersprings can be coiled springs laced together, continuous coil springs, or individually pocketed springs, that support a person sleeping on the mattress.
The Carthage market for their new product was very limited. To expand the market to a wider region, Mr. Platt and George Leggett, brother of J. P. Leggett, would load a horse-drawn wagon with bedsprings and travel to surrounding communities. Often, to conserve space, they would load the springs and slats separately into the wagon and assemble them in a store or on an adjacent sidewalk. The partnership prospered, and the business was incorporated in 1901.

The company built its first factory and offices in Carthage in 1895. The workforce at that time consisted of the two partners and five employees. Soon after completion of the Carthage plant, a second factory was built in Louisville, Kentucky. During the next 50 years, three more factories were built. Demand for the company’s improved bedsprings was rising, and a second plant was built in Carthage in 1925. The new, much larger plant was located next to a railroad to allow for expanded shipments of products and supplies. In 1942, an additional factory was built in Winchester, Kentucky, which was subsequently consolidated with the Louisville plant. For some time, Texas had proven to be a main market outlet, and in 1947, a major factory was built in Ennis, Texas. By 1947, Leggett & Platt consisted of 4 plants and 500 employees.

Although available in various models and continuously improved upon, bedsprings were practically the only product Leggett & Platt offered until 1933. However, in that year the company began to manufacture springs for innerspring mattresses, which were relatively new products in the industry and growing in popularity. Thereafter, the company slowly began to diversify its products within the bedding industry by producing rollaway beds and folding metal cots, along with bed frames and bed rails.

Innerspring mattress componentsIn 1960, Harry M. Cornell Jr., J.P. Leggett’s grandson, was elected President and CEO of the company, taking over for his father (who was Mr. Leggett’s son-in-law). The company’s total sales in 1960 were approximately $7 million from three states – Kentucky, Texas and Missouri. Determining the course and future of the company became management’s primary objective. Following an extensive evaluation of the company and its potential, Mr. Cornell and his management partners concluded that Leggett & Platt’s best opportunities for profitable growth lay in a strategy of specializing in manufacturing, marketing, and distributing a broad and growing line of components and related products, first nationally and eventually on a world-wide basis. Key drivers of future sales and earnings would include aggressive internal growth initiatives, coupled with an active and ongoing acquisition program.

Even greater success followed, and Leggett & Platt became known as “the components people.” Leggett & Platt stock was first traded over the counter in 1967. Twelve years later, on June 25th, 1979, top management was present in New York City to witness the stock’s first day listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1985, Leggett & Platt grew into the Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S.-based manufacturing companies. In 1999, the company became part of the S&P 500 Index.

Today, Leggett & Platt products can be found nearly everywhere. Its operations encompass over 250 manufacturing plants, distribution centers and other facilities in more than 20 countries. Employee-partners working in the various locations include 24,000 individuals – the people of Leggett & Platt are the company’s greatest asset.

Pactiv Corporation,

Pactiv Corporation has two operating segments:

Hefty Consumer Products manufactures and sells waste bags, food-storage bags, and disposable tableware and cookware in the consumer market, through grocery stores, mass merchandisers, drug stores, and discount chains. Hefty is a registered trademark of Pactiv Corporation.

Foodservice/Food Packaging: Pactiv provides packaging products to the foodservice, supermarket, restaurant, and food packaging markets. These products are designed to protect food during distribution, aid retailers in merchandising food products, and help customers prepare and serve meals in their homes.

Grapette International, a manufacturer of Grapette soda.

Five different styles of the Grapette bottle

Grapette is a grape-flavored soft drink that was first produced and marketed in 1939 by Benjamin "Tyndle" Fooks. Grapette is now produced by Grapette International, and is marketed in the United States by Wal-Mart as part of its Sam's Choice line of soft drinks.

Grapette was developed by Benjamin "Tyndle" Fooks when, while working as a traveling salesman selling a product known as "Fooks Flavors", he noticed the popularity of his grape flavor. From this, Fooks, dissatisfied with existing grape sodas on the market, sought to develop a grape soda that tasted the way he believed that a grape soda should taste. Over the course of two years and tens of thousands of taste tests, by 1939, he had developed a flavor that he believed was superior to all other grape sodas available at the time.

To name the drink, Fooks turned to Hubert Owen. Owen and an assistant ran a local contest to come up with a name, but this failed to produce a suitable name. Owen then traveled to Washington, D.C. in 1939 to search the trademark files of the United States Patent Office for a suitable name. Here, it was found that a man named Rube Goldstein owned a trademark for the name "Grapette", "Orangette", and "Lemonette". Further research determined that Goldstein owned a small bottling firm that produced a drink that used one of Fooks' grape flavors, called "Tiny", which it distributed in Virginia and North Carolina, marketed in a six-ounce bottle. Goldstein, however, had never used the Grapette, Orangette, or Lemonette names. In March of 1940, Fooks and Owens traveled to Chicago, Illinois to meet with Goldstein. There, they purchased the Grapette, Orangette, and Lemonette names for $500.

Old NuGrape bottle found under a church

Notable Malvern natives include:

Academy-Award winner Billy Bob Thornton,

Three-time Super Bowl winner Keith Traylor,

And musician and stage performer Beth Clayton.

Frank Bonner, born in Little Rock and raised in Malvern, an actor and director best known for playing Herb Tarlek on the classic 1970s and 1980s sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati;

Bob Burrow, a retired American basketball player;

Beth Clayton, an award-winning operatic mezzo-soprano;

Isaac Davis, a former National Football League (NFL) player and member of Super Bowl XXIX runners-up team San Diego Chargers;

Susan Dunn, a Grammy Award winning operatic soprano;

Madre Hill, a 1995 SEC rushing champion, former NFL player, and member of Super Bowl XXXVII runners-up team Oakland Raiders;

Fred Jones, a National Basketball Association (NBA) player, 2004 NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner, and current Guard-Forward for the New York Knicks;

Tony Ollison, a former defensive tackle for the Arkansas Razorbacks, former strength and conditioning coach for the Dallas Cowboys, and currently a member of the Dallas Desperados of the Arena Football League;

Keith Traylor, an NFL player and member of Super Bowl Champions Denver Broncos (in 1997 and 1998) and the New England Patriots (in 2004).


Named after Malvern Hill in Virginia, Malvern was founded in 1870 by the Cairo and Fulton Railroad as a city site 21 miles south of Hot Springs. On October 15, 1878, Malvern officially became the county seat of Hot Spring County. The original inhabitants of the county were Native Americans, trappers, hunters, and farmers.

The Hot Springs Railroad, often referred to as the Diamond Jo line, was established as a narrow-gauge railroad by Chicago businessman Joseph Reynolds in 1874. Reynolds began building the Hot Springs Railroad, which extends north from Malvern Junction, a station on the Cairo & Fulton, to Hot Springs, after he had endured unsatisfactory stagecoach rides to Hot Springs, AR. Because Malvern was the closest railroad station to Hot Springs, it became an important junction point for passengers transferring from rail to stagecoach to complete their journey to the spas in Hot Springs. This was the only railroad into Hot Springs for 15 years. The opening of the Little Rock, Hot Springs & Western Railroad in April 1900 provided a more direct access to Hot Springs from Little Rock and the north, and both the Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf and the Iron Mountain took advantage of this route, effectively cutting the volume of interchange traffic into Malvern. By 1902 passenger train shuttle service through Malvern had essentially ended.

The Malvern Police Department has lost three officers in the line of duty, all shot to death during the 1930s. They were Clyde Davis, Leslie Lee Potts, and Hiram Potts. Davis and Leslie Lee Potts were both shot during a domestic dispute on April 21, 1933, a shootout in which they killed the suspect. Hiram Potts, who was related to Leslie Lee Potts, was shot and killed during his March 4, 1935 attempt to arrest two men who were boarding a train illegally.


The city's daily newspaper is the Malvern Daily Record, which was established in 1916. It publishes an afternoon edition Tuesday through Friday with a Saturday morning "Weekend Edition". The city also has two radio stations, namely KLEZ-FM (101.5), which plays oldies, and KBOK-AM (131.0), which plays country music.


Malvern is connected on road by Interstate 30, U.S. Route 270, and U.S. Route 67. Amtrak's Texas Eagle provides daily passenger train service to Malvern on a route extending from Chicago to Dallas and Los Angeles, and railroad freight service to Malvern is provided by Union Pacific Railroad and the Arkansas Midland Railroad, the latter operating over the route of the original Hot Springs Railroad. The Malvern Municipal Airport (FAA Identifier: M78) serves the Malvern area.

A block of Malvern.

Ask some about Malvern, and they'll tell you it's the home of Acme Brick. Others will say it's a place to stop on the way from point A to point B.

But downtown Malvern offers some interesting possibilities.

One December afternoon I found myself a couple of blocks off the intersection of Highway 67 on Highway 9, just a block and a half from the big rail bridge. I decided to get out and take a look around.

The building that caught my interest was the old Ritz Theater. It's taken a little remodeling over the years, but is still housed in the same building from years past. Unfortunately, the box office doesn't open until late in the evening.

Just west of the Ritz are a couple of buildings and a lot. The building on the corner announces itself as the Main Street Soda Fountain, which sounded great. But my dreams of a chocolate phosphate were dashed when I walked up to the darkened front door and noticed the For Sale sign.

The side of the building bears a massive two story Coca-Cola advertizement. I remember seeing this when I was a kid. I wonder if it's been retouched some... it's still clear after all of these years. The sign proclaims to all passers-by that the popular beverage is sold everywhere at the bargain price of a nickle.

Up and down the street, the old fashioned light posts are adorned with all manners of Christmas and holiday cheer. Some of the posts have seen obvious wear, and lean a bit one way or another.

I crossed the street and started looking into storefronts. There's a thrift shop on the corner with all manners of clothing and dishes inside. I passed on it, and strolled down further.

A couple of doors down is an attorney's office, nestled in an old bank building. How can I tell? Oh, maybe the big stone archway
that still proclaims the building's original purpose. The gray granite is striking against the deep red bricks.

Next door, there's the Picket Fence, a consignment shop that carries a variety of antique and craft items. I went in for a look, and came out with a remarkable scarf of many colors that my husband immediately claimed when I got home!

Past the Picket Fence, there are several empty buildings. The construction looks fine, but the businesses here petered out, for whatever reason. There is a gym housed in one of the units.

Down the block and on the other corner, is a pharmacy. Miller's Drug Store appears from the front to be your average, run of the mill store from the outside.

But step within, and you're transported to an art deco age unblemished by time.

A giant cashier's bureau huddles against one wall, its scrollwork lightly guilded, the big bureau pinned between glass and wood cabinets for cosmetics and colognes. Before it, displays of all sorts, including alarm clocks still encased in their 80s plastic.

Two rows of fluorescents light up the store, illuminating the deco headings on the wood toppers to the cases. On the east wall, drawer after drawer conceal the little items that make a drug store run. There's everything you could expect here, from analgesics to heat wraps to candy for the kids. Every area is clearly labelled for your perusal.

Straight back is the pharmacy counter -- which has been in use since the 20s. Three generations have run this drug store, and little has changed. Patient prescriptions are still held in the little boxes along the west wall cabinet, each in precise alphabetical order.

Miller's Drug Store started out in the late 19th century in another facility. It was moved here during the 20s and hasn't moved since. Unlike other places that might have felt compelled to keep up with fashion, the decor hasn't changed.
If it wasn't for the newer products here, you could mistake this for stepping back in time.

Back by the pharmacy, there's an odd display of old toys and knicknacks -- a metal play horse, an old truck, rubber figures -- displayed right along
with antique packages of hair nets and rain hoods. They bear the wear and tear of toys, not collectibles, and I could just picture what it was like to have children playing in the aisle, rolling toy cars along the lower shelves.

And halfway back up the west aisle, there's an honest-to-goodness bottle vending machine from decades earlier. I remember using this exact sort of vending machine as a kid -- dropping in change, opening the door and grasping my selection by the bottleneck. You can even still see where people who didn't know how to properly use the bottle opener splashed soda down the front.

The old drug store is far from full. Many of the shelves are empty, and some of the merchandise is ancient. But the whole place is neat as a pin. It's obvious that the pharmacy is what drives this store and keeps it open.

And that's amazing. Just a block down the street, a Wal-Greens has moved in. With its commercial selection and drive-thru, you might think the store isn't long for its days. But the folks seemed to be determined to keep on going.

I spotted this old postage machine on the cashier's bureau. The better deal was apparently to get the five 5 cent stamps for a quarter, rather than the two four cent stamps for a dime. The "sanitary" notation comes from a time when dispensing from a machine must have seemed more civil than taking stamps from some postal clerk.

Outside, I took a closer look at the tile facing. There's a neat octagonal window that lends light to the staircase leading to the upper stories, but I couldn't tell you if the top floor is in use.

There are more empty shops along the way, along with a home decore store and a taekwondo academy. An electronics shop stands quiet and dark next door to the Ritz, full of all sorts of TV and stereo equipment that may be obsolete.

The Ritz Theater has shows at 7:30 nightly within its single 700 seat theater -- and sometimes a second show. It's closed on Mondays. I found out that the theater was opened in the 30s, and someone told me it had been for sale on eBay, but it's open now and seems to be in good order. The theater's phone number is (501) 332-2451.

Miller's Drug Store is at 231 South Main Street. It's by far Malvern's oldest pharmacy.

Baker’s Cafe in Malvern (Hot Spring County); circa 1950s.
Courtesy of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Central Arkansas Library System

St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad station at Malvern (Hot Spring County), from the April 1, 1876, issue of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.
Courtesy of the Arkansas History Commission