78 years ago today (July 19, 1941), Louise Loughborough presided over the opening of a restored original Little Rock city half-block. A member of Little Rock’s Planning Commission, she had become concerned about plans to demolish a half-block of dilapidated historic homes—the last remnant of Little Rock’s oldest neighborhood
While the buildings were in desperate need of repair and restoration, they were not yet too far gone to be saved. Using her politically astute skills, she worked with the federal, state, and city governments to get funding and labor to restore the buildings. They opened at the Arkansas Territorial Restoration.
Over the years, the project grew. It became more than just a historical recreation of bygone days. It became a true museum which celebrated not only Arkansas during its territorial heyday but also the history and culture since then. Additional historic structures have been relocated to land adjacent to the original property to showcase what rural territorial life in Arkansas was like.
In 1981, the organization became the first history museum in Arkansas to be accredited by the American Association of Museums. The museum was renamed the Historic Arkansas Museum (lovingly shortened to HAM) in 2001 to reflect its expanded facility and mission. At that time, it also opened expanded and new galleries.
Today, HAM continues to thrive as it tells the story of Arkansas’ past, but also the state’s present.