Little Rock Look Back: Werner Knoop

Mayor KnoopTo Little Rock citizens under a certain age, the name Knoop means Knoop Park — a picturesque park tucked away in a pocket of Hillcrest.  There are, however, still many who remember Werner C. Knoop as a business and political leader who helped shape Little Rock as a modern city.

Knoop was born on March 30, 1902.

In 1946, Knoop joined with Olen A. Cates and P. W. Baldwin to form Baldwin Construction Company in Little Rock.  Knoop had previously founded Capital Steel Company and established his business reputation there.  From 1945 through 1951, he served on the Little Rock School Board.

Following a series of political scandals, efforts were undertaken for Little Rock to shift from Mayor-Council to City Manager form of government.  Even before the desegregation of Little Rock Central put the city in the eyes of the world, an election for new leaders had been set for November 1957.  Knoop was on a “Good Government” slate and was one of the members elected.

At the first meeting of the new City Board, Werner C. Knoop was chosen by his fellow directors to serve as Little Rock Mayor.  Knoop served as Mayor until December 1962.  For the first several months in office, Little Rock had no City Manager so Knoop oversaw the transition of City staff as the forms of government changed.

Though City Hall generally stayed out of school district matters, that did not mean that the public viewed the two entities separately.  In September 1959, the Baldwin Construction offices were bombed as part of a series of terrorist activities protesting the desegregated reopening of all Little Rock high schools.

Downtown LR as viewed from Knoop Park

Downtown LR as viewed from Knoop Park

After two terms on the City Board, Knoop decided against seeking a third term.  He concluded his elected public service on December 31, 1962.  Following his time on the City Board, Knoop did not retire from Civic Affairs.  In 1970, he served as Chairman of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.   The previous year he served as President of the Arkansas Chapter of Associated General Contractors.

Mayor Knoop died in July 1983.  He is buried at Roselawn Memorial Park next to his wife Faith Yingling Knoop, a renowned author.

In the 1930s, Knoop moved into an Art Moderne house on Ozark Point in Hillcrest.  It was adjacent to Little Rock Waterworks property which was developed around the same time.  Eventually much of the land was deeded to the City for creation of a park.  In 1989, it was named in tribute to long-time neighbor Knoop in honor of his lifetime of service to Little Rock.

Happy Easter from the Sculpture Rabbits

Downtown Little Rock has at least three different sculptures of rabbits.  Since today is Easter Sunday and the Easter Bunny is making his rounds, it seems a good day to highlight these sculptures.

In the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden, Laurel Peterson Greg’s Bunny Bump has been providing whimsy since 2010.

Bunny Bump









A few yards from the bumping bunnies, James Paulsen’s Lopsided presents a much more laconic rabbit.











And at the corner of President Clinton Avenue and Sherman Street, Tim Cherry’s Rabbit Reach welcomes visitors to the River Market.  It was placed in memory of George Wyatt and Frank Kumpuris by Whitlow Wyatt and the Carey Cox Wyatt Charitable Foundation.

Rabbit Reach

New Rooftop Terrace planned for Robinson Center

RCMH EXT-01_Aerial1The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) is now booking events for the all-new Robinson Conference Center, set to reopen in November of this year.  Located on the north side of the building, the Grand Ballroom and adjoining meeting rooms offer magnificent views of the Arkansas River.  With seamless connectivity to the DoubleTree Hotel’s meeting space, the center offers flexibility for convention activities, meetings, and banquets.  For booking information, please call 501-255-3323.

Earlier this week, the Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission (LRA&P) also approved the addition of a 5,800 sq. ft. outdoor terrace.  The terrace was part of the original project plans, however, but it was removed from the plans in 2014 during contract negotiations due to budget constraints.  Now, less than eight months from completion, LRCVB and LR A&P are able to add the finished outdoor space back into the project.  The space will offer amazing views of the Arkansas River and sits on the highest level of the new conference center, and its addition will not impact the project’s completion date.

“We are so pleased with the progress of this complex project.  Our project team, including architects Polk Stanley Wilcox and Ennead, construction manager CDI/Hunt joint venture, owner’s representatives Mike Steelman of SCM architects, and a host of sub-contractors, have continued to provide meticulous attention to detail and countless effort to this project.  The all-new Robinson Center is going to be a show-piece for Little Rock and all of Central Arkansas,” said Gretchen Hall, President & CEO of LRCVB.

For more information on the Robinson Center Second Act renovation and expansion project, visit and follow us on and

Robinson Construction Facts to Date:

  • Over 10,878 tons of material have been recycled, representing 90% of the waste material diverted
  • 1,800 tons of steel has been erected
  • 3,000 cubic yards of concrete has been placed
  • 1,104 individuals have gone through CDI/Hunt Safety Orientation
  • 75% of the project subcontractors are local
  • 250,000 +/- man hours have been utilized to date

Robinson History

The historic Robinson Auditorium has long been a landmark in Central Arkansas.  Construction of the Joseph T. Robinson Memorial Auditorium began in 1937 and officially opened in February 1940.  The structure was a WPA (Works Progress Administration) project, and is an excellent example of the Art Deco style architecture of the time.  The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.  The facility is owned by the City of Little Rock and managed by the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Sculptors announced for 2016 Sculpture at the River Market

Sculpture at the River MarketSculpture at the River Market is pleased to announce the artists who have been juried in to our 2016 Sculpture Show & Sale to be held April 22-24.

Each artist was invited to submit a proposal for the 6th Public Art Monument Sculpture Commission Competition – a $60,000 to $80,000 commission.

Guests attending the Preview Party on April 22nd will view and vote on the six semi-finalist proposals to help select the top three finalists; the top three will be announced at the end of the evening. These three finalists’ proposals will be juried on April 23-24 and the winning proposal will be announced on Sunday afternoon, April 24th.

2016 Artists

  • Lorri Acott
  • Lori Arnold
  • Terry & Maritza Bean
  • Hunter Brown
  • Craig Campbell
  • Kathleen Caricof, NSG
  • Leslie Daly
  • Darrell Davis, NSG
  • Jane DeDecker, NSG
  • John Deering
  • Clay Enoch, NSG
  • Kimber Fiebiger
  • Peter Grimord
  • Guilloume
  • Jeff Hall
  • Denny Haskew, NSG
  • Bob Heintzelman
  • Mark Hyde
  • Greg Johnson
  • James Keller
  • Kevin Kresse
  • Mark Leichliter, NSG
  • Harold Linke, NSG
  • Allison Luedtke
  • Bryan Winfred Massey, Sr.
  • James G. Moore
  • Nnamdi Okonkwo
  • Steven Olszewski
  • Richard Pankratz
  • James Paulsen
  • Nathan Pierce
  • Merle Randolph
  • Dale Roark
  • Kevin Robb
  • Timothy Roundy
  • Emelene Russell
  • Wayne Salge, NSG
  • Valerie Jean Schafer
  • Adam Schultz
  • Stephen Shachtman, NSG
  • Kim Shaklee
  • Stephanie & Scott Shangraw
  • Gene Sparling
  • Lawrence Starck
  • Charles Strain
  • Tod Switch
  • Michael Warrick, NSG
  • C.T. Whitehouse, NSG
  • Longhua XU
  • Michelle Zorich & Katherine Martin

NSG indicates membership in the National Sculptors’ Guild

Riverfest announces the 2016 Lineup

Riverfest 2016The 2016 Riverfest lineup was announced today.


Riverfest 2016 will be held on the first weekend in June (no longer on the Memorial Day holiday). The weekend will kick-off Friday, June 3rd from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. with “Flowing on the River,” a party featuring tastings of hundreds of wines & local craft beers, great food & live music. Flowing on the River is a separately ticked event.

Riverfest Music Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday June 4th & 5th with all your festival favorites from great food, arts & crafts, special attractions and the best live music on the banks of the Arkansas River.

It wouldn’t be Riverfest without the largest fireworks display in the state to conclude a full weekend of fun and activity.


Little Rock Look Back: St. Patrick’s Day with Mayor Pat L. Robinson

IMG_4517On this date in 1900, future Little Rock Mayor Pat L. Robinson was born.  While I cannot verify that he was indeed named after St. Patrick, it would be fairly reasonable to assume there might be a connection.

Robinson was a rising star of Little Rock Democratic politics.  In April 1929, just weeks after his 29th birthday, he was elected Mayor.  He had twice been elected as City Attorney (1926 and 1928) and was one of the youngest to serve in that position.

During Mayor Robinson’s tenure, he announced plans to construct a new airport.  That project led to the creation of what is now the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.  Mayor Robinson was also involved in helping Philander Smith College secure the property where it is now located.  In addition, during his tenure, what is now the Museum of Discovery was folded into the City of Little Rock.  Shortly after taking office, he championed several projects for approval by Little Rock voters. The projects he supported were approved; the ones he did not support did not pass.

Single at the time he was in office and generally considered good looking, Mayor Robinson was sometimes referred to as the “Jimmy Walker of the Southwest.” Walker was the handsome and charming Mayor of New York City at the time.

Mayor Robinson ran afoul of some of the Democratic party leaders. Records don’t seem to indicate exactly what actions he took or did not take.  One thing that is brought up is that the City went into financial distress during his tenure.  Considering the Wall Street crash happened shortly after he took office, that financial state was not unique to Little Rock.

IMG_4532During this era in Little Rock, it was customary for an incumbent mayor to be given a second term. But City Clerk Horace Knowlton challenged Robinson in the primary.  It was a bitter campaign with Robinson linking Knowlton to disreputable denizens and Knowlton charging Robinson with “an orgy of spending.”  Robinson initially came out 17 votes ahead. But after a review and a lawsuit, it was found that Knowlton ended up with 10 more votes and became the nominee.  At the time, being the Democratic nominee was tantamount to election.

After he left office, Robinson practiced law for a few years in Little Rock and then left the city.  Records do not indicate where he went but he no longer appeared in the City of Little Rock directory by the early 1940s.  In the 1940 census he is listed as divorced and a lodger living with a couple.

The HAM Nog-Off a finalist for Bootstrap Award

thnogoff_tstHistoric Arkansas Museum’s popular annual Nog-off event was a finalist for the Bootstrap Award at this year’s Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism!

This free annual event has become a success on a bootstrap budget thanks to the hard work, passion and dedication of the museum staff, amazing volunteers, incredible competitors and expert judges both past and present!

HAM will host the 12th Ever Nog-off on December 9, 2016, and they hope to see you there!

Have you ever wondered why they include “Ever” in the title of this annual event? It’s because they began as the First Ever Nog-off almost 12 years ago! Staff thinks it’s been fun to see several knock-off nog-offs appear across the country (after all, imitation is the highest form of flattery); they are proud that Arkansas was the first and it all started at Historic Arkansas Museum!

This event is an ideal example of how HAM pairs Arkansas history and heritage with fun and engaging experiences. They are proud each year to showcase historic eggnog recipes with connections to our historic grounds and early Arkansas as well as innovative recipes from our contemporary culinary masterminds in Arkansas. ‪#‎ArkansasMade‬ ‪#‎AuthenticArkansas‬ ‪#‎HeritageFood‬