Arts+History Throwback Thursday: Arsenal Building in 1942

Associated Press photo
Associated Press photo

On February 9, Little Rock voters will have the chance to say Yes to improving the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Arkansas Arts Center, and MacArthur Park.

Leading up to that election is a good time to look back at the development of these two MacArthur Park sited museums.

This is a 1942 Associated Press photo of the Arsenal Building.  Completed in 1840, it was decommissioned in 1890 after fifty years as a military arsenal and later officer barracks.  In 1893, the land on which it sits was transferred from the Federal Government to the City of Little Rock. The land became Little Rock’s first public park.  Briefly known as Arsenal Park, it was known as City Park until 1942, when it was renamed MacArthur Park after the five star general who was born there in 1880.

From 1942 until 1996, it was home to the Museum of Science and History (under several different names). The building was restored in preparation for the museum moving in.  After the building was vacated again in 1997 (when the museum moved to the River Market to become the Museum of Discovery), it stood vacant in preparation for a proposed military history museum. In 1999, the building was hit by a tornado which severely damaged part of the roof and caused some interior flooding.  The building was repaired and restored while plans for the new museum were underway.  In May 2001, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History opened.