Remember the Recall – a look at 1959 LR Schools Election at Old State House Museum today

Courtesy of UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture

After eight months of closed high schools in Little Rock, the firing of 44 well-respected Little Rock School District employees set off a firestorm which would culminate in a recall election.

Supporters of following federal law were pitted against ardent segregationists as all six members of the School Board (who had been elected only five months earlier) were subject to the state’s first ever recall election for school board members.

Today (May 9) at the Old State House Museum, the Brown Bag lecture series will focus on the Recall election and the events that led up to it.  The program starts at 12 noon.

In a program entitled, “Remember the Recall” the events of May 1959 will be discussed. The campaigns for and against these school board members exposed new generations of Little Rock residents to civic engagement. Some of Little Rock’s civic leaders today cite that time as a political awakening.



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.

Go Back to the Future at the Old State House Museum’s May edition of Nights at the Museum

Get ready for the next Night at the Museum on May 2, 6-9 p.m.!

The theme for the May 2 event is “1.21 Gigawatts of History.” Join us for a blast from the past with plenty of fun games and activities.

We’ll be heading “Back to the Future” at this month’s night at the museum. Join us for fun green screen photo ops, air guitar showdowns, make your own DeLorean and LOTS more (but you’ll have to join us on Thursday to find out!)

As always, there will be plenty of food and libations available to purchase.

Nights at the Museum is an event for ages 21+ on the museum’s iconic front lawn that takes place the first Thursday of each month seasonally, March-October. (In case of inclement weather, the event will be indoors at the museum.)

Nights at the Museum is hosted by the Arkansas State House Society – Friends of the Old State House Museum, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting OSHM and its programs.

Admission is $5; food and beverages will be available for purchase at the event. Tickets may be purchased in advance at or at the gate.

The museum can validate parking at the DoubleTree hotel; metered parking near the hotel is free after 6 p.m.

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.

A Night at the Museum: Raiders of the Lost Arkansas – tonight at the Old State House Museum

Get ready for the next Night at the Museum on Thursday, April 4,  from 6-9 pm! This month’s theme is “Raiders of the Lost Arkansas!”

Nights at the Museum is an event for ages 21+ that offers attendees a chance to enjoy games and activities, libations, and a fun new way to interact with history. Nights at the Museum will take place on the first Thursday of each month seasonally, March-October, on the iconic front lawn of the museum.

Nights at the Museum is hosted by the Arkansas State House Society, and all proceeds will benefit the museum’s educational programs.

Admission is $5; food and beverages will be available for purchase at the event. Tickets may be purchased in advance HERE or at the gate.

The museum can validate parking at the DoubleTree Hotel; all metered parking downtown is free after 6 pm.

Women Making History – Louise Loughborough

Louise Loughborough was the first woman to serve on the Little Rock Planning Commission.  Not only was the she first woman to serve on this body, she was the first to serve on any City commission other than the Board of Censors or Library Board.

Born Louisa Watkins Wright in Little Rock 1881, her ancestors included many early Arkansas leaders including Little Rock Mayor David Fulton, who had been born in Ireland.

In 1935, Loughborough was appointed to the Little Rock Planning Commission, and it was in this role that she first heard about the plan to condemn the half-block of houses that she had grown up admiring on Cumberland and East Third streets. Although the neighborhood had fallen on hard times, becoming a red-light district and slum, Loughborough feared the loss of several historic structures, including the Hinderliter House, the oldest building in Little Rock and thought to be Arkansas’s last territorial capitol. She mobilized a group of civic leaders to save these buildings. She enlisted the aid of prominent architect Max Mayer and coined the term “town of three capitols” to try to capture the imagination of potential supporters, grouping the “Territorial Capitol” with the Old State House and the State Capitol.

The Arkansas Territorial Restoration opened on July 19, 1941. The project was the first Arkansas agency committed to both the restoration of structures and the interpretation of their history, and it served as a model and inspiration for historic preservation in the state. Around the same time, she was a moving force behind the creation of a museum at the Old State House as well.  Today both Historic Arkansas Museum (as the Territorial Restoration is now known) and the Old State House Museum are agencies of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

As founding Chairman of the Arkansas Territorial Restoration Commission, Louise Loughborough provided daily direction for the museum house complex through the first twenty years of its existence. She died in Little Rock on December 10, 1962 and was buried at Mount Holly Cemetery.

Celebrate National Quilting Day on March 16 at Historic Arkansas Museum

On Saturday, March 16, Celebrate National Quilting Day at the museum with the Arkansas Quilters Guild. There will be several quilters demonstrating basic quilting techniques and working together to create a twin size quilt to donate to Dorcas House Women & Children’s Shelter. This will run from 10am to 4pm.

Quilts in the Museum Store
The museum just got in several new wall quilts by Arkansas fiber artist Barbara Carlson. Carlson’s bright and whimsical wall quilts have been featured in museums and shows across the country. Her quilting work is non-traditional, utilizing hand-painted fabrics, beads, feathers, upholstery fabrics and other materials in her pieces. Come take a look — and maybe take one home!