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Happy Feed Store

Happy Feed Store

Location Class:
Built: 1909 | Abandoned: 2002
Status: Demolished
Photojournalist: Gage Fears

The Beginning

Happy Feed Store
The Happy Feed Store, date unknown. Photo credit: Barth Grayson

The Happy Feed Store had no truly known origin. Those details are a bit foggy. However, Sanborn Maps all the way back to 1909 show the building in existence. (Whether 1909 was the first year for a Sanborn Map of Bald Knob or it existing before then on older maps, is unknown).

The store started out as a general mercantile owned and operated by B. Caplener & Sons from Cotton Plant, Ar. The store operated to about the mid to late 40s. The building was empty during the tornado of 1953.

Ernest Forbes & Forbes Lumber Co

Happy Feed Store
The Forbes & Co. building and Forbes-Collison Funeral Home, 1953 Photo credit: Barth Grayson

Sometime between 1950 and 1952, Ernest Forbes had purchased the building, along with many others like it. Ernest was at that point 20 years in his career as a Bald Knob Council member. Forbes had owned many buildings in the town. The most well known are this building, the Forbes-Collison Funeral Home (later Powell. The Powell family had actually lived in the second floor) beside the store, the Forbes-Collison Gin, the Americana motel, Stuckeys, and the Bulldog Restaurant. There is also a street named after him in the town.

When Forbes purchased the building he had extended it by 80 feet (this new section would house storage and his office). He plastered stucco over the original facade, and redesigned the facade. He added a curved glass block window on the front left corner of the building. This new facelift was consider to be Art Deco style.

Happy Feed Store

While in operation, Forbes had 2 men working the specific store, Don Emde (whose family ran the Fair Store, which is now the Downtown Courtyard), and Donald Alfrey (who later became Chief of Police). Both men were revered and would be just a couple of the many names that made Bald Knob, Bald Knob.

The building was donated at an unknown time after Forbes & Co. had closed up shop to the city as a tax credit. According to local historians, the building housed an office for the area’s Boy Scouts. In the back of the building, was storage used by the city for the Water Dept. The latest date of service known was 2002.

Ernest Forbes was known as a genius man. In 1955, Forbes was elected a director for the second district of the Arkansas Historical Association. Ernest passed away in 1981.

Abandoned Atlas Foundation Steps In

Happy Feed Store
Barth Grayson revealing a portion of one mural, displaying the need to care for history. Photo credit: The Daily Citizen

In 2020, the building was voted to be demolished to create access to a garage door on the new Water Department’s main building that was in the works. A bidder for demolition was found, but according to Mayor Barth Grayson, the bidder backed out due to asbestos in the building.

In March 2022, Abandoned Arkansas author, Gage Fears had heard of the news of the city’s plan to vote for demolition for a second time via social media. Gage reached out to the Daily Citizen and made a public statement about his decision to try to convince the Bald Knob City Council to not demolish the building, but to explore other possibilities.

On April 5th, a special meeting at the Bald Knob City Hall was held to determine the future of the building. After a long, heated, 40+ minute debate, the council decided to shelf the issue till May. Johnny Hodges, board member, requested a 3rd party inspector to tell the council what was wrong with the building. Multiple members got into heated arguments with Mayor Grayson, resulting in one almost getting ejected from the city hall by means of a police escort.

On May 2nd, 2022, Gage Fears had met up with Barth Grayson to discuss the issue over lunch. Gage had discovered the building was 80ft longer than it was originally built. With this new information, both Barth and Gage decided to use it to their advantage to help their case.

Later that night, the attempt to save the building was unsuccessful. Though, Mayor Grayson had discovered the building was tax-exempt and a case was made that the building could be cut short, and the Water Department could still use their existing door, by just going around the building. It had also been discovered the council never brought an inspector in to the building. The council unanimously voted to bring the building down anyway.

Hidden Mural

Happy Feed Store
Michael Schwarz and Barth Grayson discussing the building.

Abandoned Arkansas was given permission on May 2nd, 2022 to photograph the building, and remove stucco off the building to reveal the brick underneath. On May, 15th, 2022, Gage Fears, Michael Schwarz, and Barth Grayson met at the building at 9:30 A.M. to hammer away stucco on one side of the building to reveal a mural/advertisement from the Happy Feed Store days. The sign reads many things, but mainly reads “Buy Happy Feeds in Red Ball Bags”, “B. Caplener & Sons”, and “Bakery”. The party finished at 4:30pm that day.


https://www.thedailycitizen.com/news/attempt-to-save-old-bald-knob-building-fails-as-council-votes-unanimously-to-take-bids/article_e45975f0-b5ce-555c-9a74-916e1e1705df.html https://fb.watch/d8JKIi3QXP/ https://www.thedailycitizen.com/news/bald-knob-city-council-questions-holding-on-to-condemned-building-to-allow-sale-preservation-effort/article_3c847fba-4e86-532a-8890-7422f002b003.html https://fb.watch/d8JO7Xxcmd/ https//www.thedailycitizen.com/bald-knob-council-votes-to-tear-down-historic-building-but-searcy-man-wants-to-save/article_3614aa24-c70d-5eac-beeb-9fe660fecede.html

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