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Attractions

Benton and Saline County include many historical sites to explore. These landmarks, dating from both the city’s and surrounding area’s beginnings, provide a view into a rich past for present-day residents and visitors to enjoy.

The Gann Building, constructed of bauxite from local mines, is the only known structure of its kind in the United States. Built in 1893, it served as the office of Dr. Dewell Gann, Sr., until he donated it to the city of Benton to be used as a library. Today, it is the Gann Museum. Here, an assortment of items that exhibit local history can be viewed. A wonderful display of Benton Niloak pottery is always on display.

An important part of Benton’s rich history, the Saline County Courthouse with its landmark clock tower, has been expanded and renovated since its 1902 completion. Its tree-covered square with gazebo and brick-paved Veterans War Memorial is at the center of community life.

Bauxite Community Hall – located just next door in Bauxite, Arkansas – was erected in 1926 for the employees of the Aluminum Company of America. Not only does this building serve as a reminder of the people who lived and worked in the area, it celebrates the city and its history. The Bauxite Museum displays artifacts and memorabilia illustrating this company town’s unusual past.

The Royal Players, a local community theater group, performs downtown in a converted move theater. Look for the antique neon Royal theater sign and movie marquee. Drawing from a large pool of talent in Central Arkansas, the Royal Players produce five or six plays per year while their children’s theater and workshops round out an entire year of great theater.

Our Benton Event Center offers an opportunity for Benton residents and visitors to attend a variety of events. Outstanding events in 2015 included a Gun and Knife show, the Memphis Flea Market, Duck Duck Goose, and new in 2015 was Rhea Lana’s. A capacity crowd attended the Saline County Boys and Girls’ Club “A Night to be Great” and the Boys and Girls Club of Bryant’s “Gatsby Affair.” Civitan Services offered an exciting night to its attendees at its second “Murder at the Masquerade.” Habitat for Humanity had its annual “Home for the Heart” art show.

Under consideration now by a public/private partnership is the renovation of the Palace Theater, which was built in 1945. The building has been used as a vaudeville theater, a community center for the youth, the Benton Public Library, and as storage for the Royal Players. The renovated building will be called the Palace Theater Arts and Heritage Center and will house various exhibits showing aspects of Saline County’s history including Niloak Pottery, It will also have designated areas to be used for teaching of the arts. Efforts are being made to attract government and foundation funding for the Center.

Also in the plans to help with the revitalization of Downtown Benton is the building of a Farmers Market and Multipurpose Pavilion. It will be located on the corner of Ashley and Main streets. The landscaping around the pavilion will extend under the giant mural that was completed in 2015.

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