Posted on December 19, 2005

Segregation-Era Signs Found in Arkansas

Daniel Connolly, AP, December 17, 2005

Workers remodeling an old dime store uncovered a relic found most often in museums and history books: the words “WHITE” and “COLORED” painted over spots where water fountains once hung.

“Well, I was pretty amazed,” said Charles Moenning, the head of construction on a project to turn the old S.H. Kress store into loft apartments and retail space. “I have never seen anything like that in my life, in person, rather.”

The black letters stand out from the beige plaster wall, recalling the days when segregation ruled the South. Blacks and whites were kept apart in schools, transportation and other public places.

Mayor Jim Dailey wants the signs preserved in a museum, calling them “a dramatic reminder of a world that we don’t want to go back to.”

“I used to shop downtown when I was a kid and I used to remember all of those signs,” Dailey said Friday as he dropped by the store.

Kress built the store on Main Street in 1943 and it remained a five-and-dime until the 1960s, when a drug store moved in and occupied the space until the 1990s. Developer Frieda Nelson Tirado recently bought the vacant three-story building.