Born Louisa Watkins Wright in Little Rock 1881, her ancestors included many early Arkansas leaders. At age 21 she married attorney J. Fairfax Loughborough. She became active in several organizations including the Little Rock Garden Club, Colonial Dames and Mount Vernon Ladies Association.
Her involvement in historic structures in Little Rock began when the Little Rock Garden Club sought to improve the appearance of the War Memorial Building (now known as the Old State House Museum) in 1928. The grounds were littered with signs and monuments, and the roof of the Greek Revival building sported figurative statues of Law, Justice, and Mercy, which had been installed above the pediment after being salvaged from the Arkansas exhibit at the Philadelphia Centennial of 1876. To take the façade of the edifice back to its original 1830s appearance, Loughborough had the statues removed—without the permission of the War Memorial Commission, which had legal authority over the building.
In 1935, Loughborough was appointed to the Little Rock Planning Commission, and it was in this role that she first heard about the plan to condemn the half-block of houses that she had grown up admiring on Cumberland and East Third streets. Although the neighborhood had fallen on hard times, becoming a red-light district and slum, Loughborough feared the loss of several historic structures, including the Hinderliter House, the oldest building in Little Rock and thought to be Arkansas’s last territorial capitol. She mobilized a group of civic leaders to save these buildings. She enlisted the aid of prominent architect Max Mayer and coined the term “town of three capitols” to try to capture the imagination of potential supporters, grouping the “Territorial Capitol” with the Old State House and the State Capitol.
In 1938, Loughborough secured a commitment from Floyd Sharp of the federal WPA to help with the project, on the condition that the houses be owned by a governmental entity. She persuaded the Arkansas General Assembly to create and support, with general revenues, the Arkansas Territorial Capitol Restoration Commission (Act 388 of 1939). This satisfied Sharp’s condition, and the WPA provided labor and material for the new historic house museum. A private fundraising campaign brought in the remaining monetary support necessary for the completion of the project.
The Arkansas Territorial Restoration opened on July 19, 1941. The project was the first Arkansas agency committed to both the restoration of structures and the interpretation of their history, and it served as a model and inspiration for historic preservation in the state. Around the same time, she was a moving force behind the creation of a museum at the Old State House as well. Today both Historic Arkansas Museum (as the Territorial Restoration is now known) and the Old State House Museum are agencies of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.
As founding Chairman of the Arkansas Territorial Restoration Commission, Louise Loughborough provided daily direction for the museum house complex through the first twenty years of its existence, yielding her authority to architect Edwin B. Cromwell only as her health began to fail. She died in Little Rock on December 10, 1962 and was buried at Mount Holly Cemetery.