Little Rock Look Back: John Wassell

Future Little Rock Mayor John Wassell was born on February 15, 1813 in Kidderminster, England.

In 1829, he came to the United States.  He learned carpentry and construction in Ohio and ended up in Little Rock.  One of his jobs was as the finishing contractor on the State Capitol building, now known as the Old State House.

He later gave up carpentry and became an attorney.  (It is said that he did so after becoming embroiled in a legal dispute arising from one of his construction jobs.) Wassell also served as a judge.

In 1868, he was appointed Mayor of Little Rock by President Andrew Johnson.  He is Little Rock’s only Mayor to have served through a military appointment.  Mayor Wassell died in January 1881 and is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery along with his wife and other family members.  One of his grandsons, Samuel M. Wassell also served as Mayor of Little Rock. Another one, Dr. Corydon Wassell, was the subject of the Hollywood film The Story of Dr. Wassell.

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Rock the Oscars 2019: Sam Waterston

On February 15, 2008, Oscar nominated actor Sam Waterston appeared at the Clinton Presidential Center in a Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series program sponsored by the Clinton School for Public Service and the Clinton Foundation.

Waterston was joined by the nation’s leading authority on Abraham Lincoln, Harold Holzer in presenting “Lincoln Seen and Heard,” featuring excerpts from Lincoln’s speeches, photographs of the late president and historical commentary.

He received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for 1984’s The Killing Fields.  He has also appeared in the Oscar winning The Great Gatsby and the Oscar nominated Heaven’s Gate, Interiors, Crimes & Misdemeanors, and Nixon.  On stage, Waterston was nominated for a Tony Award and received the Drama League Award for his performance in a revival of Abe Lincoln in Illinois.

Little Rock Look Back: Public facilities in Little Rock ordered to be integrated

Following the March 1962 lawsuit by twenty-two (22) African Americans seeking the integration of public facilities in Little Rock, Federal Judge J. Smith Henley issued a order on February 15, 1963.  Judge Henley ordered the end to segregation in City parks, playgrounds, golf courses, tennis facilities, community centers, and Robinson Auditorium.

Regarding the auditorium, the order allowed for single event, short-term leasing of wholly private meetings for membership and immediate friends of members.  But it did stress that there could be no racial discrimination in the selection of or terms of leases.

The judge’s order did not cover “other facilities not identified in the record.”  Which meant, the order did not apply to swimming pools.  At the time, War Memorial pool was operated for whites and Gillam Park pool was operated for African Americans.   The judge wrote that he saw no reason to extend it to facilities not mentioned, but did not rule out the ability for future lawsuits.  In asking for a summary judgement in January 1963, the defendants had listed many types of facilities but not swimming pools.

Judge Henley’s decision did not mean that a municipality was required to integrate.  It just could not enforce segregation.  As with many other court decisions at the time, it was narrow in scope.

The end result was that Little Rock facilities were now integrated.  Except for the swimming pools.  Those would have their own story.  It would take the 1964 Civil Rights act and more legal actions for that to happen.

LANTERNS! 2019 this weekend at Wildwood Park

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Wildwood’s annual deep-winter festival celebrates the first full moon of the lunar new year. Held over three magical evenings, guests are transported to far away lands and times as they stroll through the beautifully lit pathways of Wildwood’s gardens. Cultural vistas feature live entertainment, food, drink, games and more throughout the Park’s Butler Arboretum and inside the Lucy Lockett Cabe Festival Theatre.

This year’s vistas include Germany, Mexico, China, Scotland, and the rest of the United Kingdom. Our American vista is Prohibition Chicago. As always, a trip to the Moon is a must, but this year be sure to stop by Area 51 as you just might find some aliens at our Moon vista.

Once you’re inside the gate, purchase your WildBucks at any of four locations and enjoy food and beverages at every vista. Prices range from $1 to $8. (ATM available inside the Park.) All proceeds support Wildwood Park for the Arts’ programs, gardens and operations.

TICKETS:

Tickets to the event are available online: $10 for adults, $5 for children age 6 – 12, Admission to LANTERNS! is FREE for children 5 and younger. At noon on each day of the festival, admission for that evening will increase to $12 for adults and $7 for children. Tickets at the gate are $12 for adults and $7 for children. Admission to LANTERNS! for children 5 and younger is FREE.

If you choose to purchase your ticket at the gate, we recommend bringing cash to avoid credit card fees and ticket lines!

Shuttles will run between The Promenade at Chenal and Wildwood Park beginning at 6 pm nightly until 30 minutes past the Festival’s closing. The festival closes at 10 pm on Friday & Saturday, 9 pm on Sunday. Arkansas Destinations shuttles will pick up passengers in the mall’s Courtyard located on the west side of the mall. Parking is ample. 

Off-street parking is also available along Denny Road in front of Wildwood Park. Guests enter the park on foot through two gates; no festival patron automobiles are allowed inside the park.

Bromance and Besties on a double bill at CALS Ron Robinson Theater tonight

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a double feature of two classic friendship movies, picked by our followers on Facebook and Instagram: Wayne’s World (1992, PG-13) and Clueless (1995, PG-13). Doors open at 6:00 p.m., Wayne’s World begins at 7:00 p.m., and Clueless begins at 9:00 p.m.

Beer, wine, and concessions will be available.

Originally a skit on Saturday Night Live during the late ’80s and early ’90s, Wayne’s World is about two teenage dudes who host a public access TV show, which is mainly about rock, babes and people who live in the area.

Clueless, director Amy Heckerling’s fresh adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma follows the misadventures of meddlesome Beverly Hills high schooler Cher, who gets more than she bargained for when she gives a fashion-challenged student a makeover.

Tonight’s QQA Preservation Conversation explores the National Register of Historic Places

In this month’s Preservation Conversation, the National Register of Historic Places will be discussed.  The program, featuring Callie Willliams, begins today (February 14) with a 5:30 reception and a 6:00 lecture.  It will be in the Mixing Room at the Old Paint Factory in the East Village (1306 East 6th Street).  Preservation Conversations are a program of the Quapaw Quarter Association.

RSVP: The event is free and open to the public, but please RSVP because space is limited.

Parking: There is parking directly in front of the doors that are marked “Live,” “Print,” “Meet.” If those spots are taken. park in the parking lot to the right. There is also street parking in front of the building.

Entrance: Enter the event space through the door facing 6th Street marked “Meet.”

Questions? Call 501-371-0075 ext. 3 or email qqa@quapaw.com

Cfd7e5ed 5b07 457a 8688 f8f5b807f487The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) is responsible for National Register implementation in Arkansas. February’s presentation will be on the history and development of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) as well as the research and process used to pursue listing in the Register.

Callie is a native of Arkansas and graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2008 with a Bachelors of Science in Architectural Studies. In 2010 she earned a Masters in Architectural History from the University of Virginia. As part of her graduate requirements, she completed a thesis entitled “Euine Fay Jones: Architecture is invention-is innovation-but it is also remembering”. After completing her graduate degree, she worked as the University of Virginia Registrar aboard the Semester at Sea Spring 2011 voyage around the world. In 2011, Callie returned to Arkansas and now works for AHPP. As the Education and Outreach Coordinator, she has worked with individuals and groups across the state to identify, research, and nominate historic structures to the National Register of Historic Places.

Rock the Oscars 2019: Elia Kazan

William H. Alden/Evening Standard, via Getty Image

Oscar winning director Elia Kazan married his second wife, actress Barbara Loden, in his son’s house on Alpine Court in Little Rock in 1967.  Chris Kazan was, by that time, a copy editor for the Arkansas Gazette.  He was also a Pulaski County Justice of the Peace and performed his father’s ceremony.  (At the time, the Pulaski County Quorum Court had so many justices of the peace-467-that it was the world’s largest legislative body.)

Elia Kazan’s first wife had died in 1963. He and Loden had known each other for several years before the wedding.  Kazan visited Little Rock frequently in the 1960s visiting his son.  While here, he would go to War Memorial Park to play tennis.

Kazan won two Oscars for directing: Gentlemen’s Agreement and On the Waterfront.  He was also nominated for helming A Streetcar Named Desire, East of Eden, and America America.  On the latter film he was also nominated for producing the film and for being a screenwriter.  All together, his films won 21 Oscars and received an additional 37 nominations.

In 1999, Kazan received an Honorary Oscar in tribute to his career.  Because he had “named names” before the House Un-American Activities Committee thereby abetting in the blacklisting of people suspected of being Communists, this recognition was not without controversy.  Approximately 250 people picketed that ceremony, and some in attendance did not applaud when he came out.  Earlier in the ceremony, comedian Robin Williams made light of the controversy by opining “Let Lainie Sing” a joking reference to the singer and actress Lainie Kazan (no relation).