Heritage Month – Federal Building

Federal BuildingThe newest property to be added to the National Register of Historic Places closes out the month.  The Federal Building’s inclusion on this list was announced earlier this month.

The seven-story Federal Building at 700 West Capitol Avenue  was constructed in 1959-61.  It was designed in a modern style, featuring a uniform exterior grid of spandrel and plate glass framed by rows of aluminum bands and columns of white stone.

“The Little Rock Federal Building is a good example of the commercial work of two noted Arkansas architecture firms, Swaim & Allen & Associates and Ginocchio, Cromwell & Associates,” according to the National Register nomination. “The building’s design is consistent with modern high-rise office facilities in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Its uniformly packaged facades, defined by a grid of glass, aluminum, and stone, reflected a growing trend in which Federal buildings began to more closely resemble their commercial counterparts.”

The vertical bands mimic the neoclassical columns of the adjacent 1930s Federal Courthouse. While both structures are unique and representative of their architectural styles, a harmony exists based on the strong vertical lines and the use of the white and grey based primary color scheme.


Heritage Month – Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

dunbarNow known as Dunbar Middle School, this building originally house students from junior high to junior college.  For years the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School was known throughout Arkansas and the south as an outstanding school for African American students.

From 1929 until 1955, Dunbar High School provided a high-quality education for African American students, not only within Little Rock but also from far-reaching corners of the state.   Today the National Dunbar Alumni Association is a well-organized network of former students with active chapters throughout the United States. 

The school is located in a residential area south of downtown Little Rock. George H. Wittenburg and Lawson L. Delony designed the edifice, built on a southeast-northwest axis. Both architects contributed to the design of Little Rock Central High School (1927; listed on the National Register in 1977), which is nine blocks west of Dunbar.

Dunbar was designed to accommodate an academic curriculum as well as the more traditional vocational programs often considered the limit of education for blacks. In 1980, Dunbar Junior and Senior High School and Junior College was listed on the National Register.

The significance of Dunbar Junior High School derives both from the unique place it occupies in the history of education in Arkansas and from the modern architectural concepts with which it was designed. Dunbar was a center of quality education for black Arkansans in the state’s segregated public school system, functioning as a junior high school, high school, and junior college until its last high-school and junior-college classes graduated in 1955.

It had further distinction as one of only two industrial arts schools in the south to attain junior college rating, also in 1931-1932, as well as the recognition and acceptance of the Dunbar curriculum as the basis for admission to colleges and universities throughout the United States. In 1943 the school was involved in a controversy concerning equal pay for black and white teachers in the Little Rock School System, which was resolved in Morris v. Williams, 149 F. 2d 703, heard before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This was a landmark case in establishing the principle of “equal pay based on professional qualifications and services rendered.”

The architects’ achievement in designing an architecturally eminent setting for this progressive passage in Arkansas history is also noteworthy. With an eye toward form following function, the plan of the building promotes maximum use of space and expedient circulation. Aesthetically, the building is decidedly modern, with decorative brick and stone work and striking towers reflecting an interest in the Art Deco style of the period.

CALS-Con 2015 today

cals_conFans of superheroes, Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, comics, and gaming will converge on the Central Arkansas Library System’s (CALS) 2nd Annual CALS Con on Saturday, May 30, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m on the Main Library campus, 100 Rock Street. All CALS Con events are free and open to the public.

CALS Con is a family-friendly celebration of all things fandom. The event kicks off the library’s 2015 superhero-themed Summer Reading Club, Every Hero Has a Story. Fans of all ages may come dressed as their favorite character. The day will include six panels, a social media scavenger hunt, table top gaming, LEGO display and open building, drop-in gaming area, and a meet up area. The first 700 people to register for the event will receive a special CALS Con swag bag.

CALS Con will conclude with a cosplay contest at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Avenue. Attendees are encouraged to post about their CALS Con experience on social media using #CALScon2015.

Main Library 1st Floor Events

Event Description Time
Registration 9 am – 4 pm
Cosplay Contest Registration 9 am – 3 pm
SRC Registration 9 am – 3 pm

Darragh Center Lobby

CALS Con Meetup/Photo Op Area 9 am – 4 pm
Social Media Scavenger Hunt Participate in CALS Con on a whole different dimension. Seek fun items all over the library campus and digitally document the finds on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the hashtag #CALScon2015 to be entered in a prize drawing. 9 am – 4 pm

Darragh Center

Table Top Saturday Check out games of all sorts from our collection or bring personal copies to play. Light snacks provided. 10 am – 3 pm

Youth Services

Open LEGO® Build Members of the Arkansas LEGO Users Group will present a giant LEGO display. Plenty of bricks are available for building. 10 pm – 12 pm
& 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Color-Your-Own Super Hero Mask 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Level 4

Drop-In Gaming 10:30 am – 3:30 pm

Ron Robinson Theater

Frozen Panel Can’t get enough of Elsa, Anna, and Olaf? Panelists and attendees will be discussing favorite characters and what’s next for them. 9:30 am
Game of Thrones Panel Winter is coming! Join us for a fan discussion of the George R.R. Martin novels and the popular HBO television show. Topics include the divergence of the television adaptation from the novels and the role of prophecy in the story. Bring your own pet theory! 10:30 am
Harry Potter Panel Bending All the Rules. Panelists will discuss various controversies, issues, and even conspiracy theories that have come to light since the last book was published. 11:30 am
Lego Panel LEGO has produced more than 500 billion pieces and inspired generations of builders and makers. Discuss the past, present, and future of this powerful brand. 12:30 pm
Doctor Who Panel Doctor Who has a fandom that spans generations and decades. The panel will discuss what is loved about Classic Who as well as New Who, and talk about how the Doctor helps people understand their own place in the universe. 1:30 pm
Star Wars Panel Episode VII – The Force Awakens heralds a new era in the Star Wars saga. The panel weighs in on the original series, the prequels, and the highly anticipated sequels. Scoundrels, princesses, and Jedi of all ages are welcome. 2:30 pm
Cosplay Contest The CALS Con finale event. Register to participate by 3 p.m. or attend to cheer on favorite costumes and characters. 4:00 pm

Heritage Month – White-Baucum House

ahpp_nom_whitebaucumhouse_largeThe White-Baucum House is an architecturally significant structure with important historical. associations. The building, with its strong principal entrance, dominant porches and careful detailing, is one of the earliest and best examples of Italianate architecture in the state.

The home was constructed in 1869-1870 for Robert J. T. White, who was then Arkansas Secretary of State. In 1876 the building was sold to George F. Baucum, who entered business in Little Rock after distinguished service in the Civil War. Baucum operated a wholesale grocery business, was a cotton broker, was president of the Bank of Little Rock for a time and was one of the founders of the Board of Trade of the city. The Baucum family lived in the how until the mid-1920s. Lora B. Busick occupied the place from 1935 to 1957.

After being left vacant for four years, the house was adapted to new uses, It served as the home of two restaurants, an interior design studio, a nightclub, an advertising agency, and later an engineering firm.  For several years it sat vacant and fell into disrepair.  It has since been restored.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Leap Day (February 29) in 1980.

The Wildflowers on stage tonight at Ron Robinson Theater

wildflowersArkansas Sounds brings the Sounds of Arkansas to the stage of the Ron Robinson Theater.  Tonight is a special treat as three songstresses join forces performing as The Wildflowers.

Amy Garland, Bonnie Montgomery, and Mandy McBryde have recently formed the Wildflowers, performing music with folk, country, rock, and blues influences.

This concert will feature a brief solo set by each artist, followed up with a full set to be performed by the trio all-star back up band (Nick Devlin on guitar, Bart Angel on drums, Brent LaBeau on upright bass and Geoffrey Robson on fiddle).

The concert starts at 7pm. Tickets are $10 for the general admission seating.

Little Rock Look Back: John Fitzgerald Kennedy

JFK LROn October 3, 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered remarks at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds.  Only a few weeks later, he would be felled by an assassins bullet in Texas.  In the speech, the President praised Arkansas’ congressional delegation including Senators John McClellan and J. William Fulbright and Congressmen Took Gathings, Bill Trimble, Wilbur Mills and Oren Harris.  Each of these men held senior leadership positions in key committees.  The main focus of the speech was to discuss President Kennedy’s vision for a new economy in the South.

The President was actually in the state to speak at the dedication of the Greers Ferry Dam. He agreed to make that appearance as a part of a negotiation with Congressman Mills as they were deadlocked over changes to the tax code.  He had previously visited Little Rock in 1957 when he came to the state to address the Arkansas Bar Association meeting in Hot Springs.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917, the second of nine children. Groomed for leadership by his father Joe and mother Rose, he was thrust even more into the path of political greatness following the World War II death of his elder brother Joe Jr.  A war hero himself, following his leadership after the attack of PT-109, he was first elected to Congress from Massachusetts in 1946. He would be re-elected in 1948 and 1950.  In 1952, he challenged incumbent Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and beat him.  He was re-elected to the Senate in 1958.

Kennedy had been seen as a strong potential Vice Presidential candidate for the Democrats in 1956. But his father discouraged this fearing that a loss to Eisenhower/Nixon would set him back in the future.  In 1960, the young, dashing Senator from the Bay State sought the Democratic nomination.  After a contentious primary season where he often ran against senate colleagues, Kennedy headed into the Democratic convention with the most delegates.  He added his chief rival, Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson as his running mate.

After a close election, the Kennedy-Johnson ticket bested Vice President Richard Nixon and his running mate Henry Cabot Lodge (the selfsame former Senator who had been defeated by Kennedy 8 years earlier).

Following the oldest President (at the time), the young Kennedy administration seemed to captivate the country.  During his 1000 days in office, Kennedy faced many challenges both foreign (Bay of Pigs, Cuba missile crisis, start of Vietnam) and domestic (civil rights, organized crime). His ambitious “New Frontier” focused on education, additional services to rural areas and medical care for the elderly.  He also focused on getting the US to the moon.

On the personal front, in 1953 he married Jacqueline Bouvier. In addition to their daughter Caroline and son John Jr., who survived their father, the Kennedy’s had a miscarriage, a stillborn daughter, and son Patrick who died after two days.

Together with Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, JFK embodied not only his generation but the mood of the country.  And his quotes resonate today including:

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Ich bin ein Berliner


Heritage Month – Knoop House

Knoop HouseToday’s historic property is unique for Little Rock.  It is one of the only (if not the only) Art Moderne style residences in Little Rock.

The Knoop House was built in 1936-1937 in Hillcrest for Werner and Faith Knoop. Designed by the architectural firm of Brueggeman, Swaim & Allen, the Art Moderne style of the house departed dramatically from, the mere typical period revival styles of the Hillcrest neighborhood. The Knoop House was (and still is) an outstanding Modernistic architectural statement in an area filled predominantly with English Revival, Colonial Revival, American Four Square, and Bungalow styles.

The house was built by Werner and Faith Knoop in 1936-1937.  In 1948, the original garaged was enlcosed and a new garage was added to the front of the house. Mr. Knoop was a mechanical engineer and founding principal in what is now the Baldwin & Shell Construction Company.  After having served on the school board, in 1957 Mr. Knoop became the first Mayor of Little Rock under the “new” city manager form of government and continued to serve the City on various committees even after his term as Mayor ended. Faith Yingling Knoop was a well-published author of magazine articles, textbooks, and children’s books.

The Knoop House’s simple, restrained detailing is typical of the Art Moderne style, as is the emphasis upon large uninterrupted expanses of smooth wall surface, the preference far a light palette and the selection of such modern materials as metal casement windows and glass block.

The Knoop House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in August 1990.