Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


2015 In Memoriam – Parker Westbrook

1515 WestbrookParker Westbrook WAS Mr. Preservation for Arkansas. But even though he is gone, it does not mean that preservation efforts in Arkansas are dormant.  Quite the contrary.  Like any good teacher, Parker used his knowledge to inspire others to share his interest in preservation.

It is no surprise that the organization he helped found, the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas (now called Preserve Arkansas), names its lifetime achievement award after him.  He was not only the founding President of Preserve Arkansas, he was active in it until his final days.  It was not his only founding: he was a founder of Pioneer Washington Foundation (the oldest historic preservation organization in the state), the Main Street Arkansas Advisory Board, Historic Arkansas Museum Commission, the Arkansas State Capitol Association, and the Arkansas State Review Board for Historic Preservation. He served on the latter board from 1975 until his death this year, with the exception of five years from 2002 to 2007.  In recognition of his work in the field of heritage tourism, he was a 2007 inductee into the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism’s Hall of Fame.

His work was not limited by the boundaries of his home state.  He was an Advisor Emeritus to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a 2001 recipient of a Preservation Honor Award from the Trust. Rep. Mike Ross declared him a “National Treasure” in the Congressional Record. He also served for two terms on the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and was named Chairman of the Committee on National Historic Landmarks on the National Park System Advisory Board.

A public servant, he worked for several federal officials from Arkansas, most notably Senator J. William Fulbright. He returned to Arkansas to work for Governor David Pryor.  But whether he worked in Washington DC; Little Rock; or his beloved hometown of Nashville, he was always interested in ensuring the past came alive. It might be through historic preservation, or it might be recounting a colorful moment of Arkansas history. Either way, Parker was a proponent of living history. He did not want it to be relegated to a musty, dusty book or building.
In 2007, he donated papers collected by his late sister Lucille and himself. The Lucille and Parker Westbrook Arkansas and Genealogy Collection is housed in the $20 million Arkansas Studies Institute, a joint project of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  This collection has three parts: the first part focuses on Southwest Arkansas and contains genealogical sources and 3,000 historic photographs; the second highlights his public service and political career including much about the state’s architectural history; the third part consists of family papers, letters and photographs which document the Westbrooks’ deep roots in Arkansas.
He was the epitome of the Southern gentleman.  Not only did he look the part, he acted it. He was gracious in sharing credit with others; generous with his time, labor and talent; and did his best to keep up the lost art of writing letters and notes.
Advertisements


Today at noon Clinton School features 30 Years of Main Street Arkansas with Patrice Frey

Main Street ArkThis year marks the 30th anniversary of Main Street Arkansas being created.  To mark that, the Clinton School of Public Service is hosting Patrice Frey.

She is the first President and CEO of the National Main Street Center. The National Main Street Center, Inc. is an extension of the 33-year-old Main Street program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which uses historic preservation as a tool for economic development in downtown and neighborhood commercial districts. More than 2,000 communities have participated in the Main Street program since its inception, leading to more than 235,000 building rehabilitation projects and the creation of nearly 475,000 jobs in those cities and towns.

Since 1984, Main Street Arkansas has been a leading advocate for downtown revitalization providing resources, education and professional assistance to spark life into Arkansas’s traditional commercial areas. Since that time, Main Street Arkansas cities have yielded a net gain of 3,907 jobs, 1,151 new businesses and 1,066 business expansions and relocations into downtown. A total of $145,650,659 in investment has financed 3,272 facade renovations, rehabilitations and new construction projects. The Main Street cities have seen 844 public improvement projects valued at $25,193,767 and 545,536 volunteer hours on Main Street matters.  Main Street Arkansas is a division of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Patrice Frey is President and CEO of the National Main Street Center, where she oversees the Center’s work, offering technical assistance, research, advocacy, and education and training opportunities for Main Street’s network of approximately 1,100 communities. Based in Chicago, Illinois, the National Main Street Center is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and has participated in the renewal of more than 2,000 older commercial districts during its 30-year history. Before joining the National Main Street Center in May 2013, Patrice serviced as the Director of Sustainability at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where she oversaw the National Trust’s efforts to promote the reuse and greening of older and historic buildings, including research and policy development work through the Seattle-based Preservation Green Lab.