The Rieff House
In or around 1910J.F. Rieff built the American 4- square style home that stands at 221 North College for his family. He was a prominent businessman who owned the Citizen’s Laundry Company here in Fayetteville. During the following years, College Avenue would become a stately tree-lined road full of large homes on ample lots. The residential road was an elegant and enjoyable part of Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas until its demise in the 1950’s. During this time College Avenue was converted into a commercial strip by moving or razing most of the residential buildings and building new, modern structures in their places. The Rieff House was one of the survivors of this transformation due to its use at the time being commercial.
The Rieff Family owned the home until 1946 when they sold it to the Drs. Vincent O. and Ruth Ellis Lesh. During the 1920’s they did, however, rent it out to the Kappa Alpha Order Fraternity to house the fraternity members. The Doctors opened one of Fayetteville’s first medical clinics on this site, complete with x-ray and other laboratory equipment. They treated many of Fayetteville’s population of approximately 8,000 during the period following World War II.
In 1975 the retiring doctors sold the building at a nominal price to the Fayetteville Chapter of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross used the building as its headquarters until 1985, when the Bassett Law Firm bought it to house its growing office.
The Bassett Law Firm renovated the building before occupying it on June 7, 1986. Many details of the original building have been preserved, such as the hardwood trim work, the doorknobs and hardware, stairway banister, fireplaces, beveled glass entry windows, and brass room number plaques from the days as a fraternity house.
The new wing to the Rieff House was completed this year and open in October, 1993. It is located just south of the Rieff House and equals it in square footage. Marynm Bassett and Heckathorn Construction Company teamed up for its design and construction. The interior of the new wing meets the needs of a modern law office with large meeting rooms, video teleconferencing capabilities in each office, a waiting area, and a break room. The exterior also complements the style of the Rieff House. It has an equal building mass, similar window trim, matching colors, and a similar window/door rhythm to complement its predecessor. The landscape plantings, designed and installed by Susan Ferrall, help connect the two buildings visually and offer reminders of the College Avenue of old. Today, in 2016, the addition is a proud reminder of Fayetteville’s architectural history.