Heritage Month – Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

dunbarNow known as Dunbar Middle School, this building originally house students from junior high to junior college.  For years the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School was known throughout Arkansas and the south as an outstanding school for African American students.

From 1929 until 1955, Dunbar High School provided a high-quality education for African American students, not only within Little Rock but also from far-reaching corners of the state.   Today the National Dunbar Alumni Association is a well-organized network of former students with active chapters throughout the United States. 

The school is located in a residential area south of downtown Little Rock. George H. Wittenburg and Lawson L. Delony designed the edifice, built on a southeast-northwest axis. Both architects contributed to the design of Little Rock Central High School (1927; listed on the National Register in 1977), which is nine blocks west of Dunbar.

Dunbar was designed to accommodate an academic curriculum as well as the more traditional vocational programs often considered the limit of education for blacks. In 1980, Dunbar Junior and Senior High School and Junior College was listed on the National Register.

The significance of Dunbar Junior High School derives both from the unique place it occupies in the history of education in Arkansas and from the modern architectural concepts with which it was designed. Dunbar was a center of quality education for black Arkansans in the state’s segregated public school system, functioning as a junior high school, high school, and junior college until its last high-school and junior-college classes graduated in 1955.

It had further distinction as one of only two industrial arts schools in the south to attain junior college rating, also in 1931-1932, as well as the recognition and acceptance of the Dunbar curriculum as the basis for admission to colleges and universities throughout the United States. In 1943 the school was involved in a controversy concerning equal pay for black and white teachers in the Little Rock School System, which was resolved in Morris v. Williams, 149 F. 2d 703, heard before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This was a landmark case in establishing the principle of “equal pay based on professional qualifications and services rendered.”

The architects’ achievement in designing an architecturally eminent setting for this progressive passage in Arkansas history is also noteworthy. With an eye toward form following function, the plan of the building promotes maximum use of space and expedient circulation. Aesthetically, the building is decidedly modern, with decorative brick and stone work and striking towers reflecting an interest in the Art Deco style of the period.

Heritage Month – Samuel P. Taylor Service Station

Today’s Heritage Month property is the Samuel P. Taylor Service Station.  Built in 1938, it embodies the distinctive characteristics of Art Deco architecture.

The Samuel P. Taylor Service Station is located at the corner of Cross Street and West Third Street in downtown Little Rock. The building was constructed in 1938 on a lot previously owned by the Cross Street Christian Church. The church built a basement in 1935 and had planned to construct a church on the site, however money could not be raised and the church disbanded circa 1937. The land was purchased from the church in 1938 and a man known as Mr. Saunders was hired to build a service station on its present day site. Later that same year the Samuel P. Taylor Service Station opened its doors to motorists.

The Samuel P. Taylor Service Station served motorists as garage and gas station from its opening in 1938 until 1947. In 1947 the building was purchased by Paul Williamson and the name of the business was changed to Cross Town Gulf Service Station. Mr. Williamson served as the owner and operator of the Gulf Oil Company franchise until the business went out of operation in 1972. The building was then purchased by the Safeway Corporation in 1973 and was used as storage by the Safeway Bakery Division located at 1111 West Third Street in Little Rock.  Although the building no longer serves as a service station it still greatly resembles its historic appearance and reminds those passing by of its original use.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 29, 2000.

April 24 Architeaser

IMG_4942In 1938 a new jail building was constructed north of the original City Hall building.  It was constructed by the WPA in a simplified Art Deco style.  It is connected to the Garage building.  The buff brick was accented by come granit flourishes and a frieze.  When the jail was closed, the building was used for storage.  From 1960 to 2007 it was used for storage of old files and some equipment.  Also during that time period some windows and doors were bricked in as well as other exterior and interior modifications were made.

Some of the exterior bars and interior jail doors still exist.  The exterior bars are visible today.  In 2007, the storage was relocated to an off-site location.  A portion of the old jail has been retrofitted as a fitness area for City employees.  In addition, the Parks and Recreation Department continues to use part of the facility for equipment storage and maintenance offices.


Architeaser – June 11

Last Friday’s Architeaser was a panel of fish from the art deco and brick building at 701 West Capitol.  Though the assessor’s records indicate the building was built in 1960, it appears to be much older to that (though some of the brick work looks newer so that may be the source of the 1960 date).

Here is today’s Architeaser.

Architeaser – June 3

Yesterday’s Architeaser was one of the masks on the side of Robinson Center Music Hall.  Built from 1937 to 1939, it was designed by George Wittenberg and Lawson Delony, as well as associate architect Eugene Stern in a modified art deco style with neo-classical elements.

Today’s Architeaser is below.

JAZZKAPELLE jazzes up the Arkansas Arts Center

Tonight, March roars out like a Lion (instead of the proverbial docile lamb) at the Arkansas Arts Center.  Studio Party: Jazzkapelle is the Arkansas Arts Center’s premiere fundraising event for 2012. Following the overwhelming success of Studio Party after Tabriz in 2011, Studio Party has evolved to its own event. Designed as an exciting prohibition-themed party that supports the Arkansas Arts Center, the Studio Party theme is inspired the 1921 Max Beckmann drawing from the AAC collection titled Jazzkapelle, which is German for jazz band.

At Studio Party, guests are invited into the Deco-drenched cabaret experience of the early 20th century, just as in the drawing.

“One of the benefits of having a world class collection of art at your fingertips is that it offers an almost endless supply of themes and subjects to spark the imagination,” says Todd Herman, Executive Director of the Arkansas Arts Center. “I love the idea that we are using a German drawing from the 1920s as our inspiration this year for Studio Party. The noise and energy that are so apparent in the drawing by Beckmann will be translated into a high-energy party at the Arts Center!”

Party goers will dance the night away in a club setting to Liquid Pleasure from Atlanta, GA, who in their 29th year have firmly established themselves as the South’s premiere show and dance band.

Tickets to the Studio Party are $100 party tickets and $250 VIP tickets. VIP tickets put AAC Patrons one step closer to the dance floor. While sipping sloe gin fizzes and classic champagne cocktails in a speakeasy lounge atmosphere, pre-party goers will enjoy the Roaring 20’s tastiest treats, live jazz and the antics of a Cabaret clad wait staff.

Windstream Corporation is the Studio Party presenting sponsor. Event sponsors are East-Harding, Central/Moon Distributors, Inc., Noble Strategies, CWP Productions and Stone Ward. Patron sponsor is First Security Bank.

Tickets will be available at the door.

February Frieze Frame Friday – Nature Friezes

701 Capitol

Since there was really no freezing weather this February, the architectural friezes have had to do.  The final feature in this series is actually five small friezes on a one story building at 701 West Capitol.

This one story office building sits on a corner with the entrance actually being off the corner instead of a street front.  Though the majority of the building is brick, the granite front entrance wraps around the corner. 

(no idea what this is)

The friezes are spaced at the top of this granite.  According to the Pulaski County Assessor’s office, this building (which is across the street from the Federal Courthouse) was built in 1960.

The friezes, designed in an art deco style, depict scenes of nature.  It is apparent that one is of a bird (an eagle?), one is a duck flying, one is of fish, and one of an antlered animal (an antelope?).

The remaining frieze is a mystery to the LR Culture Vulture. All of the other designs are very detailed yet this one appears to be more stylistic.

Eagle (centered over entrance)

Duck flying (along Capitol Avenue)

Fish swimming (along Capitol Avenue)

Antelope playing (along Capitol Avenue)