Dr. Robert A. Brunson’s town house, which finished construction right at the start of the Civil War. Originally built in Columbus near the intersection of Arkansas Highway 73 and Hempstead County Road 35, it was relocated to Washington in 1985. Its Italianate trim and front porch were restored in 2017, and the building currently serves as a special events rental center. This house is available to registered guests only.
Backstory and Context
Robert A. Brunson was born in Tennessee in 1821. His father was Robert Brunson, who served as surgeon under Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812, and his grandfather was regimental surgeon under General Nathanael Greene during the American Revolution. The younger Robert Rrunson attended Jackson Academy before graduating from Louisville Medical College in 1841. Later that year, he settled in Columbus, a community about eight miles west of Washington, and married the daughter of a local planter, Mary Jane Johnson. Between his practice and his wife’s inheritance, he would own a 400-acre plantation near Columbus by 1850, which expanded to 900-acres with 58 slaves in ten years.
In 1859, he purchased an entire block in Columbus to build his town house, which was completed just as the Civil War broke out. Not much is known about what happened to Brunson during the war, but afterwards he was unable to pay two years’ worth of taxes, and so his lands were sold at public auction. Robert C. Stuart then bought the house, who sold the house back to the Brunsons three days later. Following Mary Jane’s death in 1865, Dr. Brunson married Ann Cryer of Lafayette County. In 1871, Brunson would get into a street fight with J.D. Baker, a county official, which resulted in Baker’s death and severe injuries to Brunson. After being charged for killing Baker, Brunson managed to escape while still recuperating, but he was later acquitted. In 1876, the Brunsons sold their house to James A. Williamson and relocated to Downey, California, where Dr. Brunson continued to practice medicine.
In 1987, Historic Washington State Park acquired the building and relocated it to the southern end of Washington. By that time, the ornate designs of the house had been removed and replaced with a simple porch. In 2017, the house was restored to its original exterior, with the interior renovated to serve as an events facility.