Sandwich in History at the Matthews-Storey House today (5/3) at noon

The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program each month sponsors a Sandwiching in History tour which familiarize people who live and work in central Arkansas with the historic structures and sites around us.

The tours take place on Fridays at noon, last less than an hour, and participants are encouraged to bring their lunches so that they can eat while listening to a brief lecture about the property and its history before proceeding on a short tour.

Today (May 3) at 12 noon, this month’s tour is at the Matthews-Storey House, located at 8115 Ascension Road.

This house was constructed c. 1925 and is an amazingly intact example of a Craftsman Style airplane bungalow in central Arkansas built by the Justin Matthews Company in the Westwood development of Little Rock. The airplane bungalow is a rare form of residence designed in the Craftsman Style and named due to the similarity of its form (small upper story and cross gables) to the cockpit and wings of 1920s aircraft.

The Matthews-Storey House was a rental property for several years, before being purchased by the Storey family in 1934. The house eventually was owned by a succession of families, including a Christian Science practitioner, an insurance salesman and a Baptist pastor. The house continues to be a single family residence and includes many original features and fixtures.

The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

“Weathering It Together” Designing for the Anthropocene” is topic of Architecture and Design Network lecture

Image may contain: sky, ocean, cloud, house, outdoor, water and natureTonight (April 23), the Architecture and Design Network (ADN) continues its 2018/2019 June Freeman lecture series by welcoming Dr. Victoria Herrmann, President and Managing Director of the Arctic Institute for a lecture entitled, “Weathering It Together: Designing for the Anthropocene.”

This lecture is in partnership and provided by the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design lecture series.  It starts at 6pm at the Arkansas Arts Center; a 5:30pm reception precedes it.

The Fourth National Climate Assessment, released in late 2018, warned that the quality of life for residents across the southeast will be compromised as the built environment becomes ever-more vulnerable to increasing temperatures and flooding brought about by a changing climate, particularly as infrastructure ages and populations shift to urban areas. Professionals in design, architecture, and historic preservation can be the game-changers needed to support the continued vibrancy and viability of resilient communities amidst rapid environmental change.

This interactive lecture will help the audience better understand the climate change impacts already underway in the southeast and, through examples from across America, the role the architecture and design community has in building a community-driven vision for a resilient future.

This lecture will analyze the gaps in climate change adaptation for the built environment, and the opportunities to co-create buildings that produce adaptation and mitigation benefits, while focusing to help understand the concept of loss and damage in climate change, and examine the role architecture and design can play in loss and damage work.

Dr. Victoria Herrmann is the President and Managing Director of the Arctic Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to Arctic security research. She is one of 16 women leaders in the top 100 U.S. think tanks, and the youngest of all 100. As a National Geographic Explorer, Dr. Herrmann traveled across the country in 2016 and 2017 interviewing 350 local leaders to identify what’s needed most to safeguard coastal communities against unavoidable climate change impacts.

Her current JMK Innovation Prize project, Rise Up to Rising Tides, is creating a matchmaking program to connect skills-based volunteers with climate-affected communities for climate adaptation, historic preservation, and cultural heritage documentation projects. Dr. Herrmann teaches sustainability at American University and science communication at the University Centre of the Westfjords, Iceland. She was previously a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment, a Fulbright Canada Awardee, a Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academies of Sciences, and a Gates Scholar at the Cambridge University.

Little Rock City Hall turns 111 today

City Hall circa 1908

111 years ago today, Little Rock City Hall officially opened at the corner of Markham and Broadway.

On April 15, 1908, the Italian Renaissance Revival style building, which had been designed by local architect Charles Thompson, played host to an open house. Staff had started moving into the building in March of that year.   This was, as often is the case, behind schedule.  The date in the cornice toward the top of the building is 1907, but the building was not completed until 1908.

An open house took place on April 15, 1908, presided over by Mayor John Herndon Hollis and his wife as well as former Mayor W. E. Lenon and his wife.  (Mayor Hollis’ wife is a distant cousin of the Culture Vulture.)

In 1903, W. E. Lenon became Mayor of Little Rock. Back then, the terms were two-year terms.  Before the start of his second term in 1905, he realized that the City was outgrowing City Hall, which was, at the time, on the northeast corner of Markham and Louisiana – where part of the Statehouse Convention Center sits today.

In February 1906, Mayor Lenon appointed a committee of five aldermen to over see the planning for the building of a new City Hall. In July 1906, the City Council approved plans, which called for a City Hall with an municipal auditorium wing. There was some hue and cry about the cost spending and a resulting lawsuit, so, in September 1906, those plans were scrapped and a simpler City Hall was approved for the cost of $175,000.

The last resolution in the old City Hall called for the banning of smoking in the new Council Chambers – while the Council was in session. This may well have been the first smoking ban in a public government building in the history of Arkansas.

When the building opened, the third floor was not finished out. The space was not needed. When the Museum of Natural History and Antiquities (now the Museum of Discovery) moved into City Hall in 1929, they had to finish out their space.

In 1913, the new Central Fire Station, designed in the Beaux Arts style, was constructed adjacent to City Hall. During the 1930s, as the City grew, more space was needed. A garage, designed in the “austere, utilitarian” style was built in 1936 and a City Jail Annex, built by the WPA in the modified Art Deco style was built in 1938.

By 1984, the decision was made to stay at Markham and Broadway. An extensive renovation and restoration effort was undertaken. In 1988, the building reopened, and the interior had been restored to its 1908 appearance.

“Project Row Houses at 25” is focus of Architecture and Design Network June Freeman Lecture tonight

Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor and nature

Architecture and Design Network (ADN) continues its 2018/2019 June Freeman lecture series by welcoming Eureka Gilkey, Project Row Houses’ Executive Director. Project Row Houses is a nonprofit organization in Houston, Texas that is dedicated to empowering people and enriching the Third Ward community through engagement, art and direct action. PRH was founded 25 years ago with a mission to be the catalyst for the transformation of community through the celebration of art and African American history and culture.

PRH’s work with the Third Ward community began in 1993 when seven visionary African-American artists recognized real potential in a block and a half of derelict shotgun houses at the corner of Holman and Live Oak. Where others saw poverty, these artists saw a future site for positive, creative, and transformative experiences in the Third Ward. So, together they began to explore how they could be a resource to the community and how art might be an engine for social transformation. This is how the PRH story began.

With the founders engaged with a community of creative thinkers and the neighbors around them, Project Row Houses quickly began to shift the understanding of art from traditional studio practice to a more conceptual base of transforming the social environment. While they were artists, they were also advocates.
Over the next 25 years the organization brought together groups and pooled resources to materialize sustainable opportunities for artists, young mothers, small businesses, and Third Ward Residents helping to cultivate independent change agents by supporting people and their ideas so that they have tools and capacity to do the same for others.

PRH is, and has always been a unique experiment in activating the intersections between art, enrichment, and preservation. The lecture will cover PRH’s rich 25 year history and how the nonprofit became an international model for artists and communities to address their needs for historic preservation and community enrichment.

Architecture and Design Network lectures are free and open to the public. No reservations are required. Supporters of ADN include the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, the Central Section of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and friends in the community.

Tartan Day, celebrate all things Scottish, visit the Brownlee House at HAM

Photo by Larry Pennington

Today is Tartan Day, designated to celebrate the contributions of Scots everywhere.

One of Little Rock’s oldest structures, the Brownlee House was built by a Scotsman.  The Brownlee House is one of the restored structures at Historic Arkansas Museum.

Robert Brownlee built this Federal style brick house in the late 1840s for his brother and sister-in-law. A Scottish stonemason, Brownlee came to Little Rock in 1837 to help build the State House (now the Old State House Museum). He pursued a number of careers before leaving for California in the 1849 Gold Rush. From the late 1840s through 1852, the home’s residents were James and Isabelle Brownlee and Tabby, a woman enslaved by James Brownlee.

Brownlee had the wooden mantels in the parlor and bedroom marbleized, a popular decorative art of the time. The home’s furnishings reflect the mid-19th century.

This house is a project of The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Arkansas.

Historic Arkansas Museum is open seven days a week.  The galleries are free, but the tours of the historic structures have a nominal fee.  It is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.