Anyone who has driven up Highway 65 in Central Arkansas has doubtless noticed the work of African American stonemason Silas Owens.
Born in Solomon Grove in 1907, Owens began working in construction as a teenager and helped build the Elephant and Reptile Houses at the Little Rock Zoo during the Great Depression. But it was in his solo work building houses, churches and other buildings that he developed the Mixed Masonry style, in which he faced houses with fieldstone slabs while using alternate patterns of bricks around windows, doors, arches and posts, developing the meticulous rockwork that would distinguish his buildings.
While most of his work was in his native Faulkner County, Owens’ architecture can also be found in Pulaski, Garland, Cleburne, Jefferson, Van Buren, Conway and Hot Spring counties.
He produced Mixed Masonry buildings through the mid-1950s and died on April 4, 1960. Twenty-nine of his creations have been recognized in the National Register of Historic Places.
To learn more, visit EncyclopediaOfArkansas.net.