The Merriman Beginning
Before the Civil War Ben Block & Co along with other businesses thrived in the riverboat town of Wittsburg, on the St. Francis River east of Wynne, Arkansas. In 1908 when the railroad bypassed Wittsburg in favor of Wynne, Ben Block & Co moved to Wynne and later built the current location at 203 Merriman Ave. which hosted a mercantile downstairs and various offices upstairs. The names of some of the business owners such as Shaver and Shaver and James Roberston law firms still grace the doors of the upstairs offices. Ben Block's name is on the front entrance and his picture hands in the renovated building.
Ben Block's daughter, Rose, married Solomon Meyer and the business became Meyer Mercantile which operated in Wynne until Rose died in 1970. Since then the building has been several things including Val and Bill's department store, United Medical, and Heart Smart gym.
Pictured are the Jackson Family: Neall, Becca, Solomon, Rose, Dean. Fifth generation
The renovation has been undertaken by Ben Block's great-great granddaughter, Becca Jackson, and her husband Neall Jackson, with the expertise of Ryan Lawson LLC, native of Wynne and designer based in New York. The original character has been preserved with "minimal intervention for maximum results converting a golden age family mercantile into something meaningful for today and meaningful again for my community some hundred years later," Lawson says. "Knowing when to stop is the trick."