Tag Archives: Department of Arkansas Heritage

Happy 77 to Historic Arkansas Museum

77 years ago today (July 19, 1941), Louise Loughborough presided over the opening of a restored original Little Rock city half-block.  A member of Little Rock’s Planning Commission, she had become concerned about plans to demolish a half-block of dilapidated historic homes—the last remnant of Little Rock’s oldest neighborhood

While the buildings were in desperate need of repair and restoration, they were not yet too far gone to be saved. Using her politically astute skills, she worked with the federal, state, and city governments to get funding and labor to restore the buildings.  They opened at the Arkansas Territorial Restoration.

Over the years, the project grew. It became more than just a historical recreation of bygone days. It became a true museum which celebrated not only Arkansas during its territorial heyday but also the history and culture since then.  Additional historic structures have been relocated to land adjacent to the original property to showcase what rural territorial life in Arkansas was like.

In 1981, the organization became the first history museum in Arkansas to be accredited by the American Association of Museums. The museum was renamed the Historic Arkansas Museum (lovingly shortened to HAM) in 2001 to reflect its expanded facility and mission. At that time, it also opened expanded and new galleries.

Today, HAM continues to thrive as it tells the story of Arkansas’ past, but also the state’s present.

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Commemorate Juneteenth today at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

Each year the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center hosts a free community Juneteenth festival as a celebration of African American freedom and achievement. This year’s event takes place today from 12 noon until 6pm.

Juneteenth is the oldest national commemoration of its kind, dating back to 1865.

Among  the musicians scheduled to perform at this year’s free Juneteenth celebration are  GRAMMY-nominated recording artist Shanice, Sir the Baptist and special host Larry Dodson of the Bar Kays.

The event will be emceed and co-hosted by Keef Glason of Power 92 FM. Local performers will include 2017 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase winner Dazz & Brie, ZaeHD, Chris James and Ron Mac, Big Piph and Tomorrow Maybe, Big John Miller Band, Gold and Glitz, Dunbar Middle School Choir and Mabelvale Drum Line.

In addition, other activities will be happening throughout the day, including vendors, food trucks, living history characters and film screenings. A screening of the documentary “Dreamland” will air at 1 p.m. and “Soul Food Junkies” will air at 3 p.m.

A kids zone will feature face painting, a video game truck, laser tag, rock climbing wall, water tinkering station and more!

Visitors are also invited to learn more about Arkansas history through the African American lens while exploring MTCC’s exhibits, including the new display, “Don’t Touch My Crown,” which opened June 14 and examines the role of hair in how African Americans define themselves and are defined by others, from the late 19th century to the present.

Seating at the performance stage is limited; attendees are invited to bring their own chairs and blankets.

MTCC is located at 501 W. Ninth St, Little Rock, AR 72201. For more information, please call (501) 683-3593 or email info@mosaictemplarscenter.com.

MTCC is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Final day to see Miss Arkansas gowns at Old State House Museum

For the second year in a row, the Old State House Museum has had an exhibit of gowns worn by winners of the Miss Arkansas title.

While many of the gowns are those worn on the night the winner was crowned, among the collection is a gown worn by Helen Gennings, Miss Arkansas 1968. After her win, Helen went with other pageant winners from across the country to entertain troops in Vietnam. The gown has dirt on the sleeve and hem from Vietnam.  As a tribute to the troops, Helen refused to have the dress cleaned.

You can see this and other gowns at the Old State House today from 9am until 5pm.

The Old State House Museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

45th Historic Arkansas Museum Territorial Fair today from 10 to 4

hamlogoHistoric Arkansas Museum will host the 45th Annual Territorial Fair on Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This popular annual event is a fun and free opportunity for adults and children of all ages to experience what life was like during Arkansas’s Territorial era. Living history performances, blacksmith demonstrations, historical dances and pioneer games will be happening on the museum’s historic grounds, a preserved and meticulously recreated section of an early downtown Little Rock neighborhood.

Pioneer games and crafting
Cooking and blacksmithing demonstrations
Living history with the Early Arkansas Reenactors Association
Animals from Heifer International
Mother’s Day cards in the Old Print Shop with print blocks designed by Neal K Harrington
Performances by the Arkansas Country Dance Society
Live music by Suzanne and Jim
Balloon art with Hanson’s Balloon Twisting
FREE Loblolly Creamery ice cream and Diamond Bear Brewing Company root beer
Heritage food from Cypress Knee Food Truck

The Museum Store will be open for Mother’s Day shopping with a variety of unique Arkansas-made gifts and books.

Historic Arkansas Museum is a historic site museum of Arkansas’s frontier days. Five pre-Civil War houses, on their original block, are restored to antebellum appearances, so you can learn about life pre-Civil War in Arkansas. Guided tours of the historic houses encounter actors portraying original residents, making it easy to step back in time and learn about the history of Arkansas.

$644,600 from NEA is going to the Arkansas Arts Council

In pursuit of its commitment to advance the creative capacity of people and communities across the nation, the National Endowment for the Arts announces its second round of funding for FY 2018.

This funding round includes annual partnerships with state, jurisdictional, and regional arts agencies as well as the categories of Art Works, Creativity Connects, Our Town, and Research: Art Works.

One of the grantees was the Arkansas Arts Council which will receive $644,600.  This will support arts programs, services, and activities associated with carrying out the Arkansas Arts Council’s NEA-approved strategic plan.  The Arts Council is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

There were a total number of six (6) grants to entities in Arkansas.  These grants are worth $814,600.  As noted yesterday in a post, one of the grantees was the Arkansas Arts Center.

Earlier this year, the NEA announced its first round of grants which included $10,00 for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre to support production of The Call; $12,500 to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra to support the Canvas Festival, which combined visual arts and the performance of live symphonic music; $10,000 to the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock to support a series of chamber music performances and related educational programming; and $25,000 to the Oxford American to support the publication and promotion of the magazine.

Dr. Jane Chu, who is the Chairman of the NEA, has announced she will be stepping down on June 4, 2018, at the conclusion of her four year term.  A graduate of Arkadelphia High School and Ouachita Baptist University, she has visited Little Rock during her tenure at the helm of the NEA.

Little Rock Look Back: Major Nicholas Peay

On April 28, 1784, in Virginia, future Little Rock Alderman (and acting Mayor) Major Nicholas Peay was born the eleventh of at least thirteen children.  (His gravestone lists a May date for his birth, but all other records indicate April 28, 1784.) A veteran of the War of 1812 and the Indian Wars, he later moved to Kentucky (where he met and married his wife, Juliet Neill, in 1814) before settling in Arkansas on September 18, 1825.  At the time, they were the ninth family to set up residence in Little Rock.

After arriving in Little Rock, he bought the Little Rock Tavern. This started a fifty year tradition of his family owning taverns and hotels in Little Rock. In 1828, he was appointed Assistant Postmaster of Little Rock.  From 1825 to 1831, Little Rock residents were allowed to elect five Trustees prior to the formal incorporation. Major Peay was one of those who served on the Board of Trustees.

He later served on the Little Rock City Council, and in 1839 served for seven months as Acting Mayor due to the prolonged absence of Mayor Jesse Brown.  In 1841, his friend Gen. Zachary Taylor, paid a visit to Little Rock and stayed with him on the General’s way to Fort Smith.

Nicholas and Juliet Peay had at least eleven children, though only five appeared to have lived until adulthood. One of those, Gordon Neill Peay, served as Little Rock’s 23rd Mayor from 1859 to 1861. Other descendants of Nicholas Peay who followed him into public service include his grandson Ashley Peay, who was an Alderman in the 1920s (son of John Coleman Peay) and great-great-grandson Joseph B. Hurst (a great-grandson of Mayor Peay), who was a City Director from 1967 to 1970. In addition, City Director Hurst’s daughter-in-law, Stacy Hurst served three terms on the City Board from 2003 to 2014; she is now Director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Major Peay’s egg-nog recipe has been passed down for generations. It is the inspiration for the Historic Arkansas Museum yearly Nog-Off.  Retired HAM director Bill Worthen and his daughter are the sixth and seventh generation of the family to make Peay’s egg-nog.

Major Nicholas Peay is buried with his wife and many other family members in Mount Holly Cemetery.

The Smithsonian Institution records indicate they have an oil painting of Major Peay as well as of his wife. But there are conflicting records as to whether they have been lost or are in private collections.

LR 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.

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.