Belle Point History
When soldiers and traders pushed into the vast wilderness of the West in the early 1800's, they discovered a beautiful spot at the junction of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers. The French explorers and traders called this slate projection and its surrounding area Belle Point. At this point, the military post Fort Smith was founded.
In 1838 Congress authorized the enlargement of the military post at Fort Smith. John Rogers sold the United States 306 acres adjoining the site of the first Fort Smith for $15,000. Western Arkansas, on the edge of the Oklahoma Territory, was one of the busiest place on America's southwestern frontier during the late 1830s. A new military post was under construction and a bustling town named Fort Smith was emerging on its perimeter.
The original Belle Point School building was located on the corner of South Ninth and Carnall, near the present Fort Smith National Cemetery. The 1885 construction was financed through the sale of military reservation land donated to the city of Fort Smith for public school use. After fire closed the original school, a new Belle Point School was built on the corner of Lexington and Dodson Avenues. The classic red brick and wood structure has three floors and 22 rooms. Dedication of the new Belle Point was held on November 25, 1908. At the base of the school flag pole rests the cornerstone from the original Belle Point School with the year “1885" inscribed. Also inscribed on the stone is “New Belle Point 1908.”
Belle Point operated as an elementary school through the 1996-1997 school year. In the fall of 1997, Belle Point School was rededicated as Belle Point Alternative Center, serving students in grades 7 - 12. In 1998, the Great Beginnings Day Care, licensed through the Arkansas Department of Human Services, was added to Belle Point Alternative Center. The day care provides students with children the opportunity to continue their own education while ensuring their children a “Great Beginning” in a safe and developmentally appropriate child care facility.
In 1998 local artist John Bell, Jr., painted a picture of Belle Point School entitled “School Days.” The 20½" x 28" picture depicted children on their way to school on a fall morning in the early 20th century.
Belle Point Center is accredited by North Central Association and the Arkansas Department of Education.