Little Rock Look Back: Moments in LRFD History

In the Western Christian tradition, today is Pentecost Sunday. It is the day when tongues of flames appeared over the heads of the apostles as they preached in a variety of native languages (granted an oversimplification of the description).

In keeping with the flame reference, today’s entry looks at some moments in the Little Rock Fire Department history.

As early as 1840, the City’s volunteer firefighters had a steam-operated fire engine which had been obtained from New York City. It weighed 5,000 pounds and supposedly required the services of 50 men to pull it to a fire.

There are very few records of any of the fire fighting records from those days.

By the post Civil War era, volunteer fire companies were being created. These were as much about fraternization and politics as they were about public safety.  Most of Little Rock’s political leadership during the 1860s through the 1880s were members of a volunteer fire company.

On May 2, 1867, the Pat Cleburne Steam Fire Company responded to a fire. In the more modern era of record-keeping with the advent of Reconstruction, this is the first recorded response to a fire.  The location was a corner at Markham and Scott Streets where the Fones Tire Shop was on ablaze.  The damage was estimated at $500. (The equivalent to $8,000 today.)  It appears to be the first case of arson in Little Rock history.

In 1893, the Little Rock Fire Department was established as a paid company.  It would hardly be considered professional by today’s standards, but it kept up with the latest technology and firefighting efforts of the day.

By 1910, the first motorized vehicle was incorporated into the fire fleet.  In 1912, the first motorized aerial apparatus was put into commission for the LRFD.

Another notable LRFD response in the month of May took place in 1952.  The Albert Pike Masonic Temple at 8th and Scott caught fire.  10,000 spectators jammed the streets to look at the fire.  30 Marines had to be deployed to help with crowd control so the LRFD could put out the fire, which caused $250,000 worth of damage (the equivalent of $2.35 million today).

Since 2018 marks the 125th year of the full-time Little Rock Fire Department, there will be other entries from time to time throughout the year looking at different aspects of the department.

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Little Rock Look Back: B-47 Explodes over Little Rock in 1960

An LRPD officer talks to bystanders next to a piece of debris
An LRPD officer talks to bystanders next to a piece of debris

The peaceful morning of March 31, 1960, was interrupted by a horrendous noise over Hillcrest around 6:00am.  A six-engine B47 from the Little Rock Air Force Base exploded mid-air.

Flaming debris fell from Allsopp Park all the way to the State Capitol grounds and stretched from Cantrell to 12th Street.  Other debris was found as far away as the Country Club of Little Rock.  The next day the Arkansas Gazette ran a map which showed the extent of the damage.

Three airmen died in the explosion and two civilians were killed when debris fell on their homes.  The only survivor from the crew, 1st Lieutenant Thomas Smoak, was found dangling from a tree in his parachute at Kavanaugh and Martin.  He was treated by a nurse, Jimmye Lee Holeman, in whose yard he had landed.

Two civilians on the ground were killed by falling debris.  Many vehicles and homes were damaged, some were destroyed by debris.  The damage estimate was put around $4 million.

Police and fire crews were quickly on the scene to secure impacted areas, fight fires and rescue injured persons.

Those who perished were Captain Herbert Aldridge, Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds Watson, Staff-Sergeant Kenneth Brose, and civilians Alta Lois Clark and James Hollabaugh.

Today, part of the crash site is part of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital campus.  Other sites were removed by the I-630 construction.  Other houses were rebuilt or removed.  Fifty-eight years on, there are no visible scars to Little Rock’s landscape caused by the damage.

B47 Wreck Map

Arkansas Gazette map of debris and damage

Little Rock Look Back: First LR Council meeting after Civil War

One hundred and fifty two years ago today, Little Rock City Hall resumed functioning after the Civil War.  The City government had disbanded in September 1863 after the Battle of Little Rock.  From September 1863 through the end of the war (on on through part of Reconstruction), Little Rock was under control of Union forces.

Following the April 1865 conclusion of the Civil War, plans were made to restart local government in Little Rock.  Even though Arkansas would not have Congressional representation in Washington until June 1868 (becoming the second Confederate state after Tennessee), the establishment of local government took place in January 1866.

The first City Council meeting took place on Monday, January 8, 1866. The council met again on Tuesday, January 9 and Monday, January 15 as they were trying to establish committees and rules for the new government.

The first post-Civil War mayor was Dr. J. J. McAlmont, who was a physician and pharmacist. Following his service as the city’s chief executive, he would later be a co-founder of what is now UAMS.  The initial aldermen were I.A. Henry (who had been on the City Council when it ceased in 1863), Henry Ashley, M. H. Eastman, Rick Bragg, Dr. P. O. Hooper, G. S. Morrison, John Collins and Alexander George.

Their first action was to approve the bond of Thomas C. Scott as Constable and City Collector.  Vouching for him were S. H. Tucker and John Gould Fletcher.  The Recorder was asked to present his bond and the next meeting.

The Mayor then established several committees of the City Council and named his appointments. Among the committees were Finances, Streets, Ordinances, Mount Holly Cemetery, Fire Department and Police.

That meeting and the following two meetings, the City continued to approve motions, resolutions and ordinances to set up the duties and responsibilities of a government.

Ordinance Number 1 established the rates of Licenses for 1866.  Among those were:

  • $100 for the privilege of selling goods at auction
  • $20 for a one-horse wagon, paid quarterly
  • $35 for a two-horse wagon, paid quarterly
  • $50 for a four-horse wagon, paid quarterly
  • $25 to run a cab or bus (which would have been in some horse drawn conveyance), paid quarterly
  • $40 a month to sell liquor, wine, ale, beer, etc., by the glass or bottle to be consumed in a store, tavern, shop or store
  • $25 each quarter for each billiard table
  • $50 each quarter for each ten pin alley

Little Rock Look Back: Little Rock City Hall resumes after Civil War

Jan 1866 minsOne hundred and fifty years ago this month, Little Rock City Hall resumed functioning after the Civil War.  The City government had disbanded in September 1863 after the Battle of Little Rock.  From September 1863 through the end of the war (on on through part of Reconstruction), Little Rock was under control of Union forces.

Following the April 1865 conclusion of the Civil War, plans were made to restart local government in Little Rock.  Even though Arkansas would not have Congressional representation in Washington until June 1868 (becoming the second Confederate state after Tennessee), the establishment of local government took place in January 1866.

The first City Council meeting took place on Monday, January 8, 1866. The council met again on Tuesday, January 9 and Monday, January 15 as they were trying to establish committees and rules for the new government.

The first post-Civil War mayor was Dr. J. J. McAlmont, who was a physician and pharmacist. Following his service as the city’s chief executive, he would later be a co-founder of what is now UAMS.  The initial aldermen were I.A. Henry (who had been on the City Council when it ceased in 1863), Henry Ashley, M. H. Eastman, Rick Bragg, P. O. Hooper, G. S. Morrison, John Collins and Alexander George.

Their first action was to approve the bond of Thomas C. Scott as Constable and City Collector.  Vouching for him were S. H. Tucker and John Gould Fletcher.  The Recorder was asked to present his bond and the next meeting.

The Mayor then established several committees of the City Council and named his appointments. Among the committees were Finances, Streets, Ordinances, Mount Holly Cemetery, Fire Department and Police.

That meeting and the following two meetings, the City continued to approve motions, resolutions and ordinances to set up the duties and responsibilities of a government.

Ordinance Number 1 established the rates of Licenses for 1866.  Among those were:

  • $100 for the privilege of selling goods at auction
  • $20 for a one-horse wagon, paid quarterly
  • $35 for a two-horse wagon, paid quarterly
  • $50 for a four-horse wagon, paid quarterly
  • $25 to run a cab or bus (which would have been in some horse drawn conveyance), paid quarterly
  • $40 a month to sell liquor, wine, ale, beer, etc., by the glass or bottle to be consumed in a store, tavern, shop or store
  • $25 each quarter for each billiard table
  • $50 each quarter for each ten pin alley

 

Happy New Year – Sixteen “16”s for 2016

Here are sixteen images of various 16s from throughout Little Rock.

 

1616 Scott

The intersection of 16th and Scott Streets


1616 Bus route

Rock Region Metro route 16


1616 fox

KLRT Fox 16 tower in downtown


1616 Firebird

Sixteenth notes from FIREBIRD SUITE which will be played by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra later this month.


1616 candles

Sixteen Candles movie is available for checkout from the Central Arkansas Library System


1616 june novel

The novel THE SIXTEENTH OF JUNE is available at Barnes & Noble


1616 Gas

Gas for $1.60 9/10 a gallon in Little Rock. (Yes, this is a slight cheat on the 16, but the 1 and 6 are still next to each other)


1616 Tons

Tennessee Ernie Ford’s LP “Sixteen Tons” available at music stores and in many homes in LR


1616 street

A street address which reverses the year – 1620 instead of 2016


1616 LRFD

Little Rock Fire Station Number 16 servicing Walton Heights and parts of Pleasant Valley


A clock in the Culture Vulture's car

A clock in the Culture Vulture’s car


A detail from an Arkansas license plate

A detail from an Arkansas license plate


A 16th birthday card

A 16th birthday card


A grocery store aisle

A grocery store aisle


Roswell Beebe, Little Rock's 16th Mayor

Roswell Beebe, Little Rock’s 16th Mayor


Little Rock has the 16th square on the new Monopoly Here & Now Game. And rent is $160

Little Rock has the 16th square on the new Monopoly Here & Now Game. And rent is 160

Today from 1 to 5, the 51st Quapaw Quarter Association Spring Tour of Homes

qqa tourThe Quapaw Quarter Association will hold its 51st Spring Tour of Homes next month in historic downtown Little Rock. The event has existed since 1963 and this year we continue to celebrate decades of remarkable preservation that has made downtown Little Rock the South’s most impressive urban renewal success story!

Tickets for this award winning tour of downtown are $25 today. The tour runs from 1pm to 5pm.

The Sunday tour will feature three trolleys throughout the route.
Trolley Stops: 
  • 509 Scott Street (Christ Episcopal Church)
  • 615 E Capitol Avenue (Historic Curran Hall)
  • 1201 Commerce Street (Firehouse Hostel and Museum)
  • Daisy Bates and Main Street(Bernice Gardens)
  • Daisy Bates and Broadway
  • 13th and Spring Street
QQATicket Booths: 
  • 615 E Capitol Avenue (Historic Curran Hall)
  • 1201 Commerce Street (Firehouse Hostel and Museum)
  • Daisy Bates and Broadway
Restrooms: 
  • 615 E Capitol Avenue (Historic Curran Hall)
  • 1201 Commerce Street (Firehouse Hostel and Museum)

 

Here are the properties to be featured!

Historic CURRAN HALL, ca. 1842

615 E. Capitol Avenue

Construction of Curran Hall began in 1842. The home was a wedding gift from Colonel Ebenezer Walter, to his wife Mary Starbuck. She unfortunately passed before the home was completed. The home would then be sold the home to James M. Curran in 1849. The home remained with the Currans until 1881, and Mary Curtis Bell, daughter of William E. Woodruff, in 1884. The home stayed in the Bell family until 1997, when local preservationists and the City of Little Rock joined forces to save it. The home was restored through this partnership to its original glory as a Greek Revival, and today serves as Little Rock’s Visitor Information Center.

1411 Broadway, ca. 1896

The history of construction for this home is unknown, beyond that it was likely constructed before 1896. The primary owner after its construction, throughout the 1890s and early 1900s was Frank Carl, a businessman. The structure then had various owners from 1912- 1922 and was divided up as a rental property from 1922-1935. The home was officially the Broadway Apartments from 1935 to 1975 and became commercial property after that until the Miller family purchased the home for rehabilitation. The home is now a single family home once again and has been restored with historically appropriate details.

HAILE COTTAGE, ca. 1880s

417 W. 13th Street

The Haile family, Andrew J. and his mother Annie, likely constructed the cottage in the late 1880s. This home appears to have been built as a rental property. The Haile Cottage did not remain under the ownership of the Haile family for long. It changed hands many times throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Throughout the early 1900s, there were several additions on the east and west sides of the home. There was also a second story added. It was not until 1989 that the home would be purchased to be restored to its original beauty.Carl Miller, Jr. purchased the home for restoration. When the home was purchased, it had seen years of deterioration and overall neglect. Miller’s rehabilitation restored the Haile Cottage to its original Folk Victorian charm.

CHRIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 1941

509 Scott Street

In 1839, Leonidas Polk helped organize Christ Episcopal church in Senator Chester Ashley’s home. It was named after Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, of which several of the group had been members. Bishop Polk arranged to buy property at the church’s present location, 5th & Scott Streets, in 1840. In 1846 the first church building was opened. By 1873, that building had been destroyed by fire. By 1887 the funds had been raised and a new building was opened. In 1938, before an unveiling of a new interior, this building burned as well. Plans were again drawn for a new church, this time in a neo-gothic style, with the exterior of Arkansas stone rather than the red brick of the former church. In September of 1941 the current building was opened. Guided tours of Christ Episcopal Church will begin at the front door and take place at 2, 3, and 4 p.m.

FIREHOUSE HOSTEL AND MUSEUM, ca. 1917

1201 Commerce Street

Little Rock Fire Station no. 2 is one of the most visible and well known landmarks in the MacArthur Park Historic District. The firehouse was opened in 1917 after moving from its Main Street location to the western end of City Park, now known as 1201 S. Commerce. The fire station, as seen today, is definitively Craftsman. Originally it featured a large porch and had some Spanish Revival elements as well. In 1959 the station was closed when a new station opened on 9th street. The building has served as a meeting location for clubs and organizations in the community, and has been managed by the City of Little Rock since the late 1990s. In 2006 Hosteling Arkansas, Inc. began plans to turn the firehouse into a hostel and museum. It is set to open later this year.

HERRON HORTON OFFICE/STUDIO/RESIDENCE, 2008

1219 South Spring Street

Architects Jennifer Herron and Jeff Horton designed and built their 2008 office and art studio as a separate structure beside the home they designed and built at the same time for their family of four. The two energy efficient structures are joined through a passageway and transition space that connects home to work and work back to home. As infill in an historic neighborhood at a point where residential begins to transition to commercial, the Herron Horton office/studio and residence offers a thoughtful and elegant counterpoint to the older homes and commercial businesses surrounding them.

Little Rock Look Back: B47 Bomber explodes over Little Rock

An LRPD officer talks to bystanders next to a piece of debris

An LRPD officer talks to bystanders next to a piece of debris

The peaceful morning of March 31, 1960, was interrupted by a horrendous noise over Hillcrest around 6:00am.  A six-engine B47 from the Little Rock Air Force Base exploded mid-air.

Flaming debris fell from Allsopp Park all the way to the State Capitol grounds and stretched from Cantrell to 12th Street.  Other debris was found as far away as the Country Club of Little Rock.  The next day the Arkansas Gazette ran a map which showed the extent of the damage.

Three airmen died in the explosion and two civilians were killed when debris fell on their homes.  The only survivor from the crew, 1st Lieutenant Thomas Smoak, was found dangling from a tree in his parachute at Kavanaugh and Martin.  He was treated by a nurse, Jimmye Lee Holeman, in whose yard he had landed.

Many vehicles and homes were damaged, some were destroyed by debris.  The damage estimate was put around $4 million.

Police and fire crews were quickly on the scene to secure impacted areas, fight fires and rescue injured persons.

The Strategic Air Command’s edited account of the incident noted:

A B-47 was climbing after takeoff in day VFR weather.  At about 15,000 feet, the copilot suddenly realized that the aircraft was in a very steep left bank, that the nose was well below the horizon, and that the airspeed was excessive.  He pulled the throttles to idle, punched the interphone button and shouted at the aircraft commander.

Almost immediately, the nose came up, the wings leveled, and the aircraft disintegrated.  In the cockpit section, which had separated intact from the rest of the aircraft, the copilot tried to eject, but the clamshell initiator pin had not been removed.  The copilot then unfastened his seat belt.  The canopy blew off at about 10,000 feet.  The unconscious copilot was thrown out at 4,000 feet and his parachute opened automatically.

The aircraft commander ejected at 2,000 feet, but his parachute had been fused by fire and he died upon impact.  The fourth man was found near the wreckage and did not survive.  The navigator was killed in his position.  The falling wreckage killed two civilians and caused serious damage to property.”

Those who perished were Captain Herbert Aldridge, Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds Watson, Staff-Sergeant Kenneth Brose, and civilians Alta Lois Clark and James Hollabaugh.

Arkansas Gazette map of debris and damage

Arkansas Gazette map of debris and damage