To Little Rock citizens under a certain age, the name Knoop means Knoop Park — a picturesque park tucked away in a pocket of Hillcrest. There are, however, still many who remember Werner C. Knoop as a business and political leader who helped shape Little Rock as a modern city.
Knoop was born on March 30, 1902.
In 1946, Knoop joined with Olen A. Cates and P. W. Baldwin to form Baldwin Construction Company in Little Rock. Knoop had previously founded Capital Steel Company and established his business reputation there. From 1945 through 1951, he served on the Little Rock School Board.
Following a series of political scandals, efforts were undertaken for Little Rock to shift from Mayor-Council to City Manager form of government. Even before the desegregation of Little Rock Central put the city in the eyes of the world, an election for new leaders had been set for November 1957. Knoop was on a “Good Government” slate and was one of the members elected.
At the first meeting of the new City Board, Werner C. Knoop was chosen by his fellow directors to serve as Little Rock Mayor. Knoop served as Mayor until December 1962. For the first several months in office, Little Rock had no City Manager so Knoop oversaw the transition of City staff as the forms of government changed.
Though City Hall generally stayed out of school district matters, that did not mean that the public viewed the two entities separately. In September 1959, the Baldwin Construction offices were bombed as part of a series of terrorist activities protesting the desegregated reopening of all Little Rock high schools.
Downtown LR as viewed from Knoop Park
After two terms on the City Board, Knoop decided against seeking a third term. He concluded his elected public service on December 31, 1962. Following his time on the City Board, Knoop did not retire from Civic Affairs. In 1970, he served as Chairman of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. The previous year he served as President of the Arkansas Chapter of Associated General Contractors.
Mayor Knoop died in July 1983. He is buried at Roselawn Memorial Park next to his wife Faith Yingling Knoop, a renowned author.
In the 1930s, Knoop moved into an Art Moderne house on Ozark Point in Hillcrest. It was adjacent to Little Rock Waterworks property which was developed around the same time. Eventually much of the land was deeded to the City for creation of a park. In 1989, it was named in tribute to long-time neighbor Knoop in honor of his lifetime of service to Little Rock.