A Visit to the Historic Kocourek and Son Store in Hazen

 


If you find yourself traveling down Highway 70, be sure to
keep a look out for the two-story brick building Kocourek and Son Antiques in
downtown Hazen.

 


The building is
said to be the oldest continuously operated business between Memphis and Little
Rock.  
 
The former hardware store was founded by John Kocourek in
1892.

 

Kocourek, an immigrant from Bohemia, was something of a
renaissance man of Hazen. Known as a founder of the Grand Prairie region, he
got the Cotton Belt Railroad to build a track from Hazen to Stuttgart (the
train made the trip twice a week), enabled alot of folks from Slovak and Bohemian to settle in the region (
he gave them a free train ride to the area and looked after them when they got
there) and was vital in determining the location of Highway 70 through
town.  

 


Kocourek’s
grandson Dink sold the business in 1980 to Conley House, who ran it until 2001.
He sold it to Greg and Barbara Rawn in 2006 for use as an antiques store.
 
John Kocourek
started a small hardware store in 1862 in this spot,” said Barbara Rawn. “He
was instrumental in starting the town of Hazen.”

 



Barbara said when plans to expand came into the picture for
Kocourek, they picked up the small store, put it on pipes and rolled it to the
back lot. They began construction of the larger building( the one folks see
now) in 1906 and they finished it a year later. “It was actually run as a
hardware store pretty much up until the time we bought the building seven years
ago,” she said. “It’s just really a wonderful old building.”

 


 A lot of people
tried to buy the building and ‘they were on the verge of tearing down the
building just for the building materials.’

 


 A key to the
Rawn’s proposal was preserving the vast amount of local history connected to
the store. “I think that’s a large reason the gentleman who owned the building
agreed to sell it to us,” she said.  

 



The store has
high ceilings ( around 18 feet) and is four bricks thick all the way around.
“It’s got wonderful materials upstairs,” said Rawn. “The wonderful old wood
upstairs in the ceiling that’s never been painted, never been touched. The
ceiling here is fabulous.”

 


 The second
story houses a large hand-operated elevator with a rope hoist. 

 


 “They had
elevators like that in a lot of these old buildings,” said Rawn. “When the
railroad ran, they would buy tons of stuff for the farmers and stuff around
here. This was a booming town, they would buy it on 90 days credit and they
would buy this stuff and pull it up on the old elevator and store stuff up
there. They sold pretty much everything except clothing and groceries in here.
Anything they could fit on the 8 by 12 elevator.”

 



On the route to
town, folks will notice wooden signs for the Railroad Prairie Natural Area,
which occupies portions of the abandoned right-of-way of the former Chicago,
Rock Island, and Pacific railroad along U.S. Highway 70 between Carlisle and
DeValls Bluff. This section of prairie land is one of the last remaining
segments of what was once the dominant ecosystem of the Grand Prairie. Today,
less than 1% of the prairies that occurred across this region remain.

 



When the Nature
Conservancy purchased the land ( the Natural Heritage Commission currently
looks after the land)  for this
area a few years ago, the official celebration ceremony and announcement took
place at the Koucourek and Son store.

 

Outside the store, the 2-mile Hazen Trail runs along the
main thoroughfare through town. The asphalt trail ( a rail to trail
project)  is interrupted at its
midpoint by a short section of original track. The trail lies on an old Rock
Island rail line that once ran from Little Rock to Memphis.

 

Kocourek and Sons continues to be a landmark in town as a
thriving antiques store. Barbara has been buying and selling antiques off and
on for the last 35 years and always “kind of wanted to do something like this.”
“The building really kind of lends itself to this kind of product,” she said.

 



Inside,
visitors are greeted with a lot of interesting finds, including a bello used in
the Civil War. 

 

If you want to stop by and check out the building and
antiques, the store, located at 56 East Front Street, is open Monday-Friday
from 10-5 and Saturday from 10-4. It is also open by appointment. For more
information, call 870-255-3465.
Posted in Travel Arkansas
4 comments on “A Visit to the Historic Kocourek and Son Store in Hazen
  1. JakeMoose says:

    Very nice story K&B! Mr Jake and I are definitely going to plan a trip to see the store soon!

  2. Conniecat says:

    What an interesting history and how nice that the antique shop fits right in with it.

    If I’m ever out in that area I’ll be sure to stop in.

  3. Zoie Clift says:

    Yep, the store has a fantastic history. Be sure to say hello to owners Barbara and Greg Rawn if you go. They are wonderful! Zoie

  4. BocaBarbara says:

    Thank you for this article. I love reading the history of an old structure. If I am ever in the area I will definitely pay a visit to the Rawn’s store.

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