Little Rock Look Back: Creation of War Memorial Stadium approved

On March 18, 1947, Governor Ben T. Laney signed the bill into law which authorized the construction of War Memorial Stadium.

The plans for the stadium were the brainchild of Arkansas Secretary of State C.G. “Crip” Hall and University of Arkansas Athletic Director John Barnhill.

Apparently the Southwest Conference was threatening to kick Arkansas out because of an inadequate football facility. Since the University did not have the funds to build a new one on its campus, Barnhill and Hall decided that the state should build one. Many other states were building War Memorial facilities of a variety of natures. The duo decided that the new football facility could be a War Memorial Stadium to pay tribute to the men who died in the recently concluded World War II.  While the stadium was touted as being of use to all colleges in the state and a variety of other types of activities, it was very much designed to be a home for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Getting the stadium through the Arkansas General Assembly was not easy.  The bill to create the stadium commission sailed through both houses. But even some who voted for it said they would oppose any funding bills.  When time came to vote for the funding, the bill fell far short of the three-quarters vote that was needed in the House for an appropriation bill.

WWII veterans were on both sides of the issue.  Some felt it was an appropriate way to honor those who died.  Others felt it was a gimmick to get the stadium approved.  Some of the opponents felt that a new state hospital for UAMS would be the more appropriate way to honor those who died during the war.  The debates were often heated and personal.

Overnight a new bill was created. It would pay for the stadium through the issuing of bonds. In addition to the state issuing bonds, any city which wished to bid for it would have to put up money for it as well as provide land.  This new bill would require only 51 votes to pass the House.  It was able to pass that threshold.  The Senate made a few amendments (mostly dealing with the composition of the stadium commission and the amount of dollars that the host city had to pledge).  Finally the House agreed to the Senate amendments and it went to Governor Laney.

The next hurdle for the stadium was choosing a location. That process would occupy stadium proponents throughout the spring and summer of 1947.

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Little Rock Look Back: War Memorial Stadium approved

WMS Hall BarnhillOn March 18, 1947, Governor Ben T. Laney signed the bill into law which authorized the construction of War Memorial Stadium.

The plans for the stadium were the brainchild of Arkansas Secretary of State C.G. “Crip” Hall and University of Arkansas Athletic Director John Barnhill.

Apparently the Southwest Conference was threatening to kick Arkansas out because of an inadequate football facility. Since the University did not have the funds to build a new one on its campus, Barnhill and Hall decided that the state should build one. Many other states were building War Memorial facilities of a variety of natures. The duo decided that the new football facility could be a War Memorial Stadium to pay tribute to the men who died in the recently concluded World War II.  While the stadium was touted as being of use to all colleges in the state and a variety of other types of activities, it was very much designed to be a home for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Getting the stadium through the Arkansas General Assembly was not easy.  The bill to create the stadium commission sailed through both houses. But even some who voted for it said they would oppose any funding bills.  When time came to vote for the funding, the bill fell far short of the three-quarters vote that was needed in the House for an appropriation bill.

WWII veterans were on both sides of the issue.  Some felt it was an appropriate way to honor those who died.  Others felt it was a gimmick to get the stadium approved.  Some of the opponents felt that a new state hospital for UAMS would be the more appropriate way to honor those who died during the war.  The debates were often heated and personal.

Overnight a new bill was created. It would pay for the stadium through the issuing of bonds. In addition to the state issuing bonds, any city which wished to bid for it would have to put up money for it as well as provide land.  This new bill would require only 51 votes to pass the House.  It was able to pass that threshold.  The Senate made a few amendments (mostly dealing with the composition of the stadium commission and the amount of dollars that the host city had to pledge).  Finally the House agreed to the Senate amendments and it went to Governor Laney.

The next hurdle for the stadium was choosing a location. That process would occupy stadium proponents throughout the spring and summer of 1947.

Little Rock Look Back: First Arkansas Razorback game at War Memorial Stadium

On September 18, 1948, the Arkansas Razorbacks took on Abilene Christian and won the game by a score of 40 to 6.  It was the first game of the season, and the Razorbacks went into the game ranked #13. They maintained that ranking for four weeks before falling out of national standings.  The team ended up with a season record of five wins and five losses. Playing four of their games at War Memorial that season, they were two and two in Little Rock. They were one and two in Fayetteville and amassed a 2-1 record on the road.

Dedication ceremony in 1948. Photo courtesy of the War Memorial Stadium Commission.

Dedication ceremony in 1948. Photo courtesy of the War Memorial Stadium Commission.

Prior to the game, the stadium was dedicated to the veterans of World War I and World War II in a ceremony led by former Razorback standout and Medal of Honor recipient Maurice “Footsie” Britt.  Though he would later be known for entering politics and becoming Arkansas’ first Republican Lieutenant Governor, in his college days he was known statewide as an outstanding Razorback football and baseball athlete.  During World War II, his bravery and courage allowed him to become first person in American history to earn all the army’s top awards, including the Medal of Honor, while fighting in a single war.

Also participating in the opening ceremony were a mass of high school marching bands from across the state. Reports indicate up to forty bands were on the field to play the National Anthem as part of the event.

The construction of the stadium had been a dream of Governor Ben T. Laney. He had encouraged the Arkansas General Assembly to create the stadium during the 1947 session.  In August of 1947, Little Rock was chosen as the location over Hot Springs and North Little Rock. West Memphis had abandoned its bid when it was unable to secure the necessary financial pledges.  Construction started in 1947 and continued up until opening day.  On the day of the game, newspaper photos showed heavy equipment grading the parking lot prior to paving.

Though it had been Laney’s dream, with the passing of the guard, a newspaper photo on the day after the dedication focused on the incoming governor, Sid McMath.  Because Arkansas was such a Democratic heavy state, the paper referred to him as Governor-designate even though it was six weeks prior to the 1948 General Election when he would face off against C. R. Black.  McMath won the race with 89.4% of the vote.

Little Rock Look Back: War Memorial Stadium formally approved

On March 18, 1947, Governor Ben T. Laney signed the bill into law which authorized the construction of War Memorial Stadium.

The plans for the stadium were the brainchild of Arkansas Secretary of State C.G. “Crip” Hall and University of Arkansas Athletic Director John Barnhill.

Apparently the Southwest Conference was threatening to kick Arkansas out because of an inadequate football facility. Since the University did not have the funds to build a new one on its campus, Barnhill and Hall decided that the state should build one. Many other states were building War Memorial facilities of a variety of natures. The duo decided that the new football facility could be a War Memorial Stadium to pay tribute to the men who died in the recently concluded World War II.  While the stadium was touted as being of use to all colleges in the state and a variety of other types of activities, it was very much designed to be a home for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Getting the stadium through the Arkansas General Assembly was not easy.  The bill to create the stadium commission sailed through both houses. But even some who voted for it said they would oppose any funding bills.  When time came to vote for the funding, the bill fell far short of the three-quarters vote that was needed in the House for an appropriation bill.

WWII veterans were on both sides of the issue.  Some felt it was an appropriate way to honor those who died.  Others felt it was a gimmick to get the stadium approved.  Some of the opponents felt that a new state hospital for UAMS would be the more appropriate way to honor those who died during the war.  The debates were often heated and personal.

Overnight a new bill was created. It would pay for the stadium through the issuing of bonds. In addition to the state issuing bonds, any city which wished to bid for it would have to put up money for it as well as provide land.  This new bill would require only 51 votes to pass the House.  It was able to pass that threshold.  The Senate made a few amendments (mostly dealing with the composition of the stadium commission and the amount of dollars that the host city had to pledge).  Finally the House agreed to the Senate amendments and it went to Governor Laney.

The next hurdle for the stadium was choosing a location. That process would occupy stadium proponents throughout the spring and summer of 1947.

 

Little Rock Look Back: Razorback Football Launches War Memorial Stadium

wms1948-first-gameIn honor of the Arkansas Razorbacks taking on Alcorn State today in Little Rock, a look back at the first football game (or event of any kind) at War Memorial Stadium.

On September 18, 1948, the Hogs took on Abilene Christian and won the game by a score of 40 to 6.  It was the first game of the season, and the Razorbacks went into the game ranked #13. They maintained that ranking for four weeks before falling out of national standings.  The team ended up with a season record of five wins and five losses. Playing four of their games at War Memorial that season, they were two and two in Little Rock. They were one and two in Fayetteville and amassed a 2-1 record on the road.

Dedication ceremony in 1948. Photo courtesy of the War Memorial Stadium Commission.

Dedication ceremony in 1948. Photo courtesy of the War Memorial Stadium Commission.

Prior to the game, the stadium was dedicated to the veterans of World War I and World War II in a ceremony led by former Razorback standout and Medal of Honor recipient Maurice “Footsie” Britt.  Though he would later be known for entering politics and becoming Arkansas’ first Republican Lieutenant Governor, in his college days he was known statewide as an outstanding Razorback football and baseball athlete.  During World War II, his bravery and courage allowed him to become first person in American history to earn all the army’s top awards, including the Medal of Honor, while fighting in a single war.

Also participating in the opening ceremony were a mass of high school marching bands from across the state. Reports indicate up to forty bands were on the field to play the National Anthem as part of the event.

The construction of the stadium had been a dream of Governor Ben T. Laney. He had encouraged the Arkansas General Assembly to create the stadium during the 1947 session.  In August of 1947, Little Rock was chosen as the location over Hot Springs and North Little Rock. West Memphis had abandoned its bid when it was unable to secure the necessary financial pledges.  Construction started in 1947 and continued up until opening day.  On the day of the game, newspaper photos showed heavy equipment grading the parking lot prior to paving.  Though it had been Laney’s dream, with the passing of the guard, a newspaper photo on the day after the dedication focused on the incoming governor, Sid McMath.  Because Arkansas was such a Democratic heavy state, the paper referred to him as Governor-designate even though it was six weeks prior to the 1948 General Election when he would face off against C. R. Black.  McMath won the race with 89.4% of the vote.

Little Rock Look Back: Congressman David D. Terry

david_terry_fOn January 31, 1881, future U.S. Congressman David Dickson Terry was born in Little Rock.  He was the son of William Leake Terry, who would serve in Congress from 1891 until 1901.  At the time David was born, his father was Little Rock City Attorney.  His mother was Mollie C. Dickson Terry. His parents also had two other sons, and after his mother’s death and his father’s remarriage, David had a half-sister.  He attended school in Virginia, and studied law in Little Rock and Chicago.

In 1910, he married Adolphine Fletcher, daughter of a former Little Rock mayor.  They had four children: David, Sarah, William and Mary. They later adopted a fifth child, Joseph.  The family lived in the Albert Pike Mansion, now known today as the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House.

In 1918, at the age of 37, David enlisted for service in World War I.  During the war, he would remain stateside.  Due to some family health issues, after the war he split his time between Little Rock and Massachusetts.  By the late 1920s, he had returned to Little Rock pretty much full time.

Continuing with his family’s commitment to public service, he served as president of the Little Rock Boys Club beginning in 1928. He oversaw a fundraising drive which raised $150,000 to replace a building destroyed by fire in 1930.  From 1929 until 1933, he served on the Little Rock School Board.

In 1933, David began service in the Arkansas House of Representatives.  The next year, he was elected to Congress to fill a vacancy in a hotly-contested election.  After the primary, he had barely made it into a runoff with Brooks Hays. But he ended up defeating Hays by 625 votes. Hays and his supporters protested due to election irregularities in Yell County, but David Terry was declared the winner.

Though he often was fiscally very conservative, he was also a strong advocate for the New Deal. His first bill in congress was to provide relief for financially strapped Arkansas schools.  In 1942, he decided to run for the Senate, but lost to John L. McClellan.  He ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 1944.  The winner that year, Ben Laney, appointed David Terry to lead the Flood Control, Water and Soil Conservation office. He held this position until 1953.

In later years, he kept a lower profile, even as his wife continued to raise her profile.  Arguably more people in Little Rock today are familiar with Adolphine Fletcher Terry and her efforts to reopen the Little Rock public schools than with the Congressman.

He died on October 6, 1963 and is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery.

The Terry Lock and Dam and the Little Rock School District’s Terry Elementary are both named for the former Congressman.

Little Rock Look Back: Congressman David D. Terry

david_terry_fOn January 31, 1881, future U.S. Congressman David Dickson Terry was born in Little Rock.  He was the son of William Leake Terry, who would serve in Congress from 1891 until 1901.  At the time David was born, his father was Little Rock City Attorney.  His mother was Mollie C. Dickson Terry. His parents also had two other sons, and after his mother’s death and his father’s remarriage, David had a half-sister.  He attended school in Virginia, and studied law in Little Rock and Chicago.

In 1910, he married Adolphine Fletcher, daughter of a former Little Rock mayor.  They had four children: David, Sarah, William and Mary. They later adopted a fifth child, Joseph.  The family lived in the Albert Pike Mansion, now known today as the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House.

In 1918, at the age of 37, David enlisted for service in World War I.  During the war, he would remain stateside.  Due to some family health issues, after the war he split his time between Little Rock and Massachusetts.  By the late 1920s, he had returned to Little Rock pretty much full time.

Continuing with his family’s commitment to public service, he served as president of the Little Rock Boys Club beginning in 1928. He oversaw a fundraising drive which raised $150,000 to replace a building destroyed by fire in 1930.  From 1929 until 1933, he served on the Little Rock School Board.

In 1933, David began service in the Arkansas House of Representatives.  The next year, he was elected to Congress to fill a vacancy in a hotly-contested election.  After the primary, he had barely made it into a runoff with Brooks Hays. But he ended up defeating Hays by 625 votes. Hays and his supporters protested due to election irregularities in Yell County, but David Terry was declared the winner.

Though he often was fiscally very conservative, he was also a strong advocate for the New Deal. His first bill in congress was to provide relief for financially strapped Arkansas schools.  In 1942, he decided to run for the Senate, but lost to John L. McClellan.  He ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 1944.  The winner that year, Ben Laney, appointed David Terry to lead the Flood Control, Water and Soil Conservation office. He held this position until 1953.

In later years, he kept a lower profile, even as his wife continued to raise her profile.  Arguably more people in Little Rock today are familiar with Adolphine Fletcher Terry and her efforts to reopen the Little Rock public schools than with the Congressman.

He died on October 6, 1963 and is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery.

The Terry Lock and Dam and the Little Rock School District’s Terry Elementary are both named for the former Congressman.