Sandwich in History at the Stebbins-Roberts Building today

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You are invited to join the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program’s next “Sandwiching in History” tour, which will visit the Stebbins-Roberts Building at 1300 East Sixth Street in Little Rock beginning at noon on Friday, August 2, 2019.

The 1947 Stebbins-Roberts Building was designed by noted Arkansas architect H. Ray Burks for the Stebbins & Roberts Paint Company, the former sole provider of Benjamin Moore paint products in Arkansas. The building is a late example of Art Deco and Art Moderne architecture by Burks, who was known for his work in the style.

Sandwiching in History tours are worth one hour of AIA continuing education credit. If you would like to receive email notifications of upcoming tours instead of postcards or need additional information, please contact Callie Williams, Education and Outreach Coordinator for AHPP, at 501-324-9880 or Callie.Williams@arkansas.gov.

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Little Rock Look Back: Plans for Arkansas Arts Center unveiled on May 22, 1961

In a dinner at the Hotel Sam Peck, plans for the new Arkansas Arts Center were unveiled on Monday, May 22, 1961.

It was estimated the project would cost $600,000. A total of $646,000 (the equivalent of $5.5 million in 2019) had been raised by the Junior League of Little Rock, Fine Arts Club, and the Board of the Museum of Fine Arts.

At the time the project was getting underway, it was one of the first types of multidisciplinary arts facilities in the United States.

Ground was broken in August 1961 and the building would open officially in May 1963 (though parts of it were already in use by December 1962).

The firm of Ginocchio, Cromwell, Carter & Neyland did the architectural design.  Pickens-Bond Construction Company was the general contractor.

The May 1961 plans featured a slight expansion of existing gallery space (which was the 1937 Museum of Fine Arts building). It included the addition of a theatre, classrooms, administrative offices, a library, and more gallery space.  While the original entrance would be kept, the main focus of the building would be shifted from 9th Street into MacArthur Park with a new south entrance.

Over the years, the building underwent several additions.  These were tacked on to the existing edifice without truly linking it into one building.  On July 1, 2019, the facility will be closed to begin the work on the re-imaging and renovation. That process will unite the existing and new spaces into one seamless structure.

RobinsoNovember: Mayor R. E. Overman

Overman AuditR. E. Overman assumed the office of Little Rock mayor in April 1935. Around that time, a new wave of New Deal programs were filtering down from Washington DC to cities.  It can be said of Mayor Overman that he did not meet a New Deal program he did not like.  From rebuilding the sewer system, to creating a public water utility, to constructing of structures for the Museum of Fine Arts, Little Rock Zoo, and Boyle Park, Mayor Overman signed the City up for program after program.

While the programs were all worthwhile, and in some cases absolute necessities, Mayor Overman did not seem to consider how these massive projects running concurrently would impact the City finances.  In November 1935, he submitted a proposal to the Public Works Administration for the construction of a new municipal auditorium to be located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Scott Street and Capitol Avenue. It would have taken up three/quarters of that block and wrapped around the Women’s City Club building (now the Junior League of Little Rock headquarters).  Because of other projects in the works, he did not pursue any further action on the auditorium project at the time.

In November 1936, Mayor Overman asked the City Council to place three bond issues on a special election ballot for January 1937, one of which was a municipal auditorium. Though a location had previously been identified in 1935, at this point in time supporters made a concerted effort to disclose that no location had been selected.  After the election was called, there was a concerted effort by supporters of the three separate bond issues to collaborate.  Voters overwhelmingly approved all three issues, and Little Rock’s journey to a municipal auditorium at last was underway. Perhaps.

Over the summer, architects and lawyers were selected. In the autumn, a consultant was hired to help with the selection for the site.  The month of October was consumed with City Council battles over the auditorium site.  Mayor Overman favored a location at Markham and Spring Streets (now site of the Cromwell Building and the Bankruptcy Courthouse). Because the Federal Government owned half the site and did not want to sell it, that location was deemed not feasible – though that did not stop Mayor Overman and others from repeatedly citing it as their first choice.  The only person who favored the location at Markham and Broadway did not have a vote: Planning Commission Chair J. N. Heiskell. Though he had no vote, he had the twin bully pulpits of Planning Commission and the Arkansas Gazette. As other sites fell by the wayside, he kept advocating for it.  Finally, the City Council approved of Heiskell’s choice, and the auditorium had a site.

The groundbreaking had to take place by January 1, 1938, or the money would be rescinded. After finalizing a location, planning could get underway.  With a week to spare, the ground was broken on December 24, 1937.  Mrs. Joseph T. Robinson, widow of the recently deceased US Senator from Arkansas, joined Mayor Overman in the groundbreaking. This ceremony was the first mention of the building being named in memory of the fallen senator, who had died in the summer of 1937.

Construction progressed throughout 1938 and into 1939.  Because of the precarious state of the City’s finances, Mayor Overman lost the support of the business community.  In November 1938, he lost his bid for the Democratic nomination for Mayor and was denied a third two-year term.  He left office in April 1939.

Arkansas Heritage Month – LR Mayor Overman and a municipal auditorium

Overman AuditR. E. Overman assumed the office of Little Rock mayor in April 1935. Around that time, a new wave of New Deal programs were filtering down from Washington DC to cities.  It can be said of Mayor Overman that he did not meet a New Deal program he did not like.  From rebuilding the sewer system, to creating a public water utility, to constructing of structures for the Museum of Fine Arts, Little Rock Zoo, and Boyle Park, Mayor Overman signed the City up for program after program.

While the programs were all worthwhile, and in some cases absolute necessities, Mayor Overman did not seem to consider how these massive projects running concurrently would impact the City finances.  In November 1935, he submitted a proposal to the Public Works Administration for the construction of a new municipal auditorium to be located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Scott Street and Capitol Avenue. It would have taken up three/quarters of that block and wrapped around the Women’s City Club building (now the Junior League of Little Rock headquarters).  Because of other projects in the works, he did not pursue any further action on the auditorium project at the time.

In November 1936, Mayor Overman asked the City Council to place three bond issues on a special election ballot for January 1937, one of which was a municipal auditorium. Though a location had previously been identified in 1935, at this point in time supporters made a concerted effort to disclose that no location had been selected.  After the election was called, there was a concerted effort by supporters of the three separate bond issues to collaborate.  Voters overwhelmingly approved all three issues, and Little Rock’s journey to a municipal auditorium at last was underway. Perhaps.

Over the summer, architects and lawyers were selected. In the autumn, a consultant was hired to help with the selection for the site.  The month of October was consumed with City Council battles over the auditorium site.  Mayor Overman favored a location at Markham and Spring Streets (now site of the Cromwell Building and the Bankruptcy Courthouse). Because the Federal Government owned half the site and did not want to sell it, that location was deemed not feasible – though that did not stop Mayor Overman and others from repeatedly citing it as their first choice.  The only person who favored the location at Markham and Broadway did not have a vote: Planning Commission Chair J. N. Heiskell. Though he had no vote, he had the twin bully pulpits of Planning Commission and the Arkansas Gazette. As other sites fell by the wayside, he kept advocating for it.  Finally, the City Council approved of Heiskell’s choice, and the auditorium had a site.

The groundbreaking had to take place by January 1, 1938, or the money would be rescinded. After finalizing a location, planning could get underway.  With a week to spare, the ground was broken on December 24, 1937.  Mrs. Joseph T. Robinson, widow of the recently deceased US Senator from Arkansas, joined Mayor Overman in the groundbreaking. This ceremony was the first mention of the building being named in memory of the fallen senator, who had died in the summer of 1937.

Construction progressed throughout 1938 and into 1939.  Because of the precarious state of the City’s finances, Mayor Overman lost the support of the business community.  In November 1938, he lost his bid for the Democratic nomination for Mayor and was denied a third two-year term.  He left office in April 1939.

Sandwich in History at Waldo E. Tiller House today at noon

ahpp WaldoTillerHouseThe Arkansas Historic Preservation Program’s next “Sandwiching in History” tour will visit the Waldo E. Tiller House at 35 Sherrill Road in Little Rock beginning at noon today, (March 4).

Completed in 1954, the Tiller House was designed by Little Rock architect Dietrich Neyland, who worked for the firm of Ginocchio, Cromwell & Associates. The home’s modern design was inspired by the work of Neyland’s mentor, internationally-known architect Richard Neutra. Waldo Tiller was president of the Tiller Tie & Lumber Company. He also served as president and later, executive secretary, of the Arkansas Forestry Association. The Tiller House was remodeled in 2007 to provide necessary updates while preserving the home’s unique, Mid-Century Modern character.

The “Sandwiching in History” tour series targets Pulaski County structures and sites. The noontime series includes a brief lecture and tour of the subject property. Participants are encouraged to bring their lunches with them. The American Institute of Architects offers one HSW continuing education learning unit credit for members who attend a “Sandwiching in History” tour.

The tour is free and open to the public. For information, call the AHPP at (501) 324-9880, write the agency at 323 Center St., Suite 1500, Little Rock, AR 72201, send an e-mail message to info@arkansaspreservation.org, or visitwww.arkansaspreservation.org.

The AHPP is the Department of Arkansas Heritage agency responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering and preserving the state’s cultural resources. Other agencies are the Arkansas Arts Council, the Delta Cultural Center in Helena, the Old State House Museum, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and the Historic Arkansas Museum.

130 years of Cromwell Firm focus of Old State House Museum Brown Bag lecture today

OSH Brown BagJoin the Old State House Museum at noon on Thursday, December 3, for a Brown Bag Lunch Lecture led by Dan Fowler, Chief Operating Officer at Cromwell Architects Engineers, as he speaks about the influence and history of 130 years of Cromwell.
The talk is in support of the current temporary exhibit at the Old State House Museum, “Lost + Found.”
“Lost + Found” highlights eight different projects completed or renovated by Cromwell during its 130 year history. These include projects in Little Rock (Little Rock City Hall, the Federal Reserve Bank Building and 615 Main Street), North Little Rock (St Joseph’s Home for Children), Pine Bluff (the Temple Building and the Pines Hotel) and Hot Springs (the de Soto and Majestic Hotels). Many of these structures were designed by Charles L. Thompson, one of the founders of Cromwell and one of the most-known and prolific architects in Arkansas in the 20th century. “Lost + Found” ends December 11.
The talk is free and participants are encouraged to bring a lunch. Soft drinks and water are provided.

 

“Lost + Found: Saving Downtowns in Arkansas” exhibit by Old State House Museum and Cromwell firm runs through December 11

The Old State House Museum and Cromwell Architects Engineers present a new exhibit: “Lost + Found: Saving Downtowns in Arkansas.” The exhibit will highlight eight different structures in Arkansas and raise awareness of the need for the preservation of Arkansas’s architectural heritage, and will be on exhibit for four weeks from November 13, 2015, until December 11, 2015.

“This exhibit takes a close look at eight pieces of Arkansas’s architectural heritage; some of those are in dire need of preservation, and others are outstanding examples of restoration and creative reuse,” said Bill Gatewood, Old State House Museum director. “The Old State House Museum is a natural venue for this exhibit, as the repository of the drawings of Charles L. Thompson and as one of the state’s earliest historic preservation success stories.”

“Lost + Found” highlights eight different projects completed or renovated by Cromwell during its 130 year history. These include projects in Little Rock (Little Rock City Hall, the Federal Reserve Bank Building and 615 Main Street), North Little Rock, (St Joseph’s Home for Children) Pine Bluff (the Temple Building and the Pines Hotel) and Hot Springs (the de Soto and Majestic Hotels). Many of these structures were designed by Charles L. Thompson, one of the founders of Cromwell and one of the most-known and prolific architects in Arkansas in the 20th century.

The Old State House Museum will also host several programs to showcase the exhibit. “Lost + Found” will take center stage on Second Friday Art Night at the Museum on Friday, November 13. The Museum will be open until 8 p.m. for the opening of the exhibit. On Thursday, December 3, at noon, Dan Fowler of Cromwell will present a Brown Bag Lunch Lecture chronicling his firm’s 130 year history. The Museum will also release articles weekly on its blog which will enhance the information provided in the exhibit. Admission is free to the Museum and all events.

About the Old State House Museum The Old State House Museum is a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage and shares the goal of all seven Department of Arkansas Heritage agencies, that of preserving and enhancing the heritage of the state of Arkansas. The agencies are Arkansas Arts Council, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, Delta Cultural Center in Helena, Historic Arkansas Museum, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, and the Old State House Museum.

About Cromwell Architects Engineers

Cromwell Architects Engineers is an international client-focused, integrated building services firm based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Celebrating its 130th anniversary in 2015, Cromwell is committed to the state of Arkansas and its people, who have been the foundation for its success. For more information, visit online at cromwell.com.

About Abandoned Arkansas

Abandoned Arkansas is dedicated to preserving Arkansas’ most precious history that may be on the verge of being lost forever. Through photography, video, articles and an active social media presence, Abandoned Arkansas documents the stories that go along with each structure. Online at abandonedar.com.