EDITOR’S NOTE: Here is the second part of a two-part series detailing the life of Justin Matthews Sr. Matthews was responsible for many landmarks and developme snts in the North Little Rock-Sherwood area, including Park Hill, The Old Mill, The Roundtop Filling Station, and The Sylvan Hills Country Club (now The Greens at North Hills).
During the same time that Matthews began the Edgemont project, he began building homes in the area on the Ark-Mo Highway (now State Highway 107) north of North Little Rock, which he name sz ld Sylvan Hills. As part of his plans for the Sylvan Hills subdivision, Matthews began building the Sylvan Hills Country Club in 1926, which was completed and officially opened in 1927. The country club was envisioned and built by Matthews to provide recreational opportunities for residents living in both Park Hill and Sylvan Hills. The country club is now known as The Greens at North Hills and is owned by the City of Sherwood. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.
In 1927, Matthews was appointed to the Arkansas State Highway Commission by Gov. John Martineau.
Unfortunately, Matthews’ timing for the opening of Edgemont in Park Hill and Sylvan Hills proved to be terrible. Only sixteen houses in Edgemont and handful of homes in Sylvan Hills were built before the Great Depression, which began in 1929, and brought construction to a halt.
In 1932, Matthews developed a park in the Lakewood subdivision which he named T.R. Pugh Memorial Park in honor of Thomas R. Pugh of Portland, Arkansas, who was a close friend and benefactor of Matthews. Today, the park is more commonly known as “The Old Mill.” The park featured a recreation of an 1880s water-powered grist mill and other structures, which were designed and created by Mexican sculptor, Dionicio Rodriguez. The structure is most famous for its part in the opening scenes of the 1939 film, “Gone With The Wind.”
In 1936, Pierce Oil Company contracted The Justin Matthews Company to build a uniquely-shaped filling station along the old Highway 67/167 between Jacksonville and North Little Rock. This building would become known as the Roundtop Filling Station. The Roundtop was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
Justin Matthews passed away on March 21, 1955, at his residence on Cherry Hill in North Little Rock. He was survived by his second wife, Robin. Matthews was buried in Little Rock’s historic Mount Holly Cemetery alongside his first wife, Agnes Somers Matthews, who had passed away i churches and service establishments.” Noting Matthews’ roles in street-paving and bridge-building, the editorial concluded by saying, “His works will always remain to testify to his imagination and vision, his boldness, his dynamic energy and his driving force that prevailed against formidable obstacles.”