Tonight’s QQA Preservation Conversation explores the National Register of Historic Places

In this month’s Preservation Conversation, the National Register of Historic Places will be discussed.  The program, featuring Callie Willliams, begins today (February 14) with a 5:30 reception and a 6:00 lecture.  It will be in the Mixing Room at the Old Paint Factory in the East Village (1306 East 6th Street).  Preservation Conversations are a program of the Quapaw Quarter Association.

RSVP: The event is free and open to the public, but please RSVP because space is limited.

Parking: There is parking directly in front of the doors that are marked “Live,” “Print,” “Meet.” If those spots are taken. park in the parking lot to the right. There is also street parking in front of the building.

Entrance: Enter the event space through the door facing 6th Street marked “Meet.”

Questions? Call 501-371-0075 ext. 3 or email

Cfd7e5ed 5b07 457a 8688 f8f5b807f487The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP) is responsible for National Register implementation in Arkansas. February’s presentation will be on the history and development of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) as well as the research and process used to pursue listing in the Register.

Callie is a native of Arkansas and graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2008 with a Bachelors of Science in Architectural Studies. In 2010 she earned a Masters in Architectural History from the University of Virginia. As part of her graduate requirements, she completed a thesis entitled “Euine Fay Jones: Architecture is invention-is innovation-but it is also remembering”. After completing her graduate degree, she worked as the University of Virginia Registrar aboard the Semester at Sea Spring 2011 voyage around the world. In 2011, Callie returned to Arkansas and now works for AHPP. As the Education and Outreach Coordinator, she has worked with individuals and groups across the state to identify, research, and nominate historic structures to the National Register of Historic Places.

LR Culture Vulture turns 7

The Little Rock Culture Vulture debuted on Saturday, October 1, 2011, to kick off Arts & Humanities Month.

The first feature was on the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, which was kicking off its 2011-2012 season that evening.  The program consisted of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90, Rossini’s, Overture to The Italian Girl in Algiers, Puccini’s Chrysanthemums and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.  In addition to the orchestra musicians, there was an organ on stage for this concert.

Since then, there have been 10,107 persons/places/things “tagged” in the blog.  This is the 3,773rd entry. (The symmetry to the number is purely coincidental–or is it?)  It has been viewed over 288,600 times, and over 400 readers have made comments.  It is apparently also a reference on Wikipedia.

The most popular pieces have been about Little Rock history and about people in Little Rock.

Arkansas Heritage Month – The Architecture of Little Rock Central High School

centralentranceArchitecture is often overlooked when considering the arts, but it is definitely an art form.

Built in 1927 as Little Rock Senior High School, Central was named “America’s Most Beautiful High School” by the American Institute of Architects. The New York Times called it the most expensive high school built at the time.

Designed as a mix of Art Deco and Collegiate Gothic architectural styles, the building is two city blocks long and includes 150,000 square feet of floor space. The project involved most of Little Rock’s leading architects who were still practicing at the time: John Parks Almand, George H. Wittenberg and Lawson L. Delony, Eugene John Stern, and George R. Mann.  Over the years, different architects would take credit for various facets of the building.  Given the size of the project, there was plenty of work for each architect to do.

More than 36 million pounds of concrete and 370 tons of steel went into the building’s construction. The building contained 150,000 square feet of floor space, upon its completion. It cost $1.5 million to construct in 1927. The school received extensive publicity upon its opening. An article in the Arkansas Gazette said, “we have hundreds of journalists in our fair city for the dedication” of the new high school.

At its construction, the auditorium seated 2,000 people between a main level and a balcony.  The stage was sixty feet deep and 160 feet long so that it could be used gymnasium. From 1927 until the opening of Robinson Auditorium in 1940, the auditorium would be Little Rock’s main site for hosting performances by musical and theatrical groups.

Subsequent additions would include a separate gymnasium, a library, and a football stadium. In 1953 the school’s name was changed to Little Rock Central High School, in anticipation of construction of a new high school for students, Hall High School.

In 1977, the school was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982. These were in recognition of desegregation events which took place in the school in 1957.

In 1998, President William Jefferson Clinton signed legislation designating the school and visitor center across the street as a National Historic Site to “preserve, protect, and interpret for the benefit, education, and inspiration of present and future generations…its role in the integration of public schools and the development of the Civil Rights movement in the United States.”

Heritage Month – Federal Building

Federal BuildingThe newest property to be added to the National Register of Historic Places closes out the month.  The Federal Building’s inclusion on this list was announced earlier this month.

The seven-story Federal Building at 700 West Capitol Avenue  was constructed in 1959-61.  It was designed in a modern style, featuring a uniform exterior grid of spandrel and plate glass framed by rows of aluminum bands and columns of white stone.

“The Little Rock Federal Building is a good example of the commercial work of two noted Arkansas architecture firms, Swaim & Allen & Associates and Ginocchio, Cromwell & Associates,” according to the National Register nomination. “The building’s design is consistent with modern high-rise office facilities in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Its uniformly packaged facades, defined by a grid of glass, aluminum, and stone, reflected a growing trend in which Federal buildings began to more closely resemble their commercial counterparts.”

The vertical bands mimic the neoclassical columns of the adjacent 1930s Federal Courthouse. While both structures are unique and representative of their architectural styles, a harmony exists based on the strong vertical lines and the use of the white and grey based primary color scheme.


Heritage Month – Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

dunbarNow known as Dunbar Middle School, this building originally house students from junior high to junior college.  For years the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School was known throughout Arkansas and the south as an outstanding school for African American students.

From 1929 until 1955, Dunbar High School provided a high-quality education for African American students, not only within Little Rock but also from far-reaching corners of the state.   Today the National Dunbar Alumni Association is a well-organized network of former students with active chapters throughout the United States. 

The school is located in a residential area south of downtown Little Rock. George H. Wittenburg and Lawson L. Delony designed the edifice, built on a southeast-northwest axis. Both architects contributed to the design of Little Rock Central High School (1927; listed on the National Register in 1977), which is nine blocks west of Dunbar.

Dunbar was designed to accommodate an academic curriculum as well as the more traditional vocational programs often considered the limit of education for blacks. In 1980, Dunbar Junior and Senior High School and Junior College was listed on the National Register.

The significance of Dunbar Junior High School derives both from the unique place it occupies in the history of education in Arkansas and from the modern architectural concepts with which it was designed. Dunbar was a center of quality education for black Arkansans in the state’s segregated public school system, functioning as a junior high school, high school, and junior college until its last high-school and junior-college classes graduated in 1955.

It had further distinction as one of only two industrial arts schools in the south to attain junior college rating, also in 1931-1932, as well as the recognition and acceptance of the Dunbar curriculum as the basis for admission to colleges and universities throughout the United States. In 1943 the school was involved in a controversy concerning equal pay for black and white teachers in the Little Rock School System, which was resolved in Morris v. Williams, 149 F. 2d 703, heard before the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This was a landmark case in establishing the principle of “equal pay based on professional qualifications and services rendered.”

The architects’ achievement in designing an architecturally eminent setting for this progressive passage in Arkansas history is also noteworthy. With an eye toward form following function, the plan of the building promotes maximum use of space and expedient circulation. Aesthetically, the building is decidedly modern, with decorative brick and stone work and striking towers reflecting an interest in the Art Deco style of the period.

Heritage Month – White-Baucum House

ahpp_nom_whitebaucumhouse_largeThe White-Baucum House is an architecturally significant structure with important historical. associations. The building, with its strong principal entrance, dominant porches and careful detailing, is one of the earliest and best examples of Italianate architecture in the state.

The home was constructed in 1869-1870 for Robert J. T. White, who was then Arkansas Secretary of State. In 1876 the building was sold to George F. Baucum, who entered business in Little Rock after distinguished service in the Civil War. Baucum operated a wholesale grocery business, was a cotton broker, was president of the Bank of Little Rock for a time and was one of the founders of the Board of Trade of the city. The Baucum family lived in the how until the mid-1920s. Lora B. Busick occupied the place from 1935 to 1957.

After being left vacant for four years, the house was adapted to new uses, It served as the home of two restaurants, an interior design studio, a nightclub, an advertising agency, and later an engineering firm.  For several years it sat vacant and fell into disrepair.  It has since been restored.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on Leap Day (February 29) in 1980.

Heritage Month – Knoop House

Knoop HouseToday’s historic property is unique for Little Rock.  It is one of the only (if not the only) Art Moderne style residences in Little Rock.

The Knoop House was built in 1936-1937 in Hillcrest for Werner and Faith Knoop. Designed by the architectural firm of Brueggeman, Swaim & Allen, the Art Moderne style of the house departed dramatically from, the mere typical period revival styles of the Hillcrest neighborhood. The Knoop House was (and still is) an outstanding Modernistic architectural statement in an area filled predominantly with English Revival, Colonial Revival, American Four Square, and Bungalow styles.

The house was built by Werner and Faith Knoop in 1936-1937.  In 1948, the original garaged was enlcosed and a new garage was added to the front of the house. Mr. Knoop was a mechanical engineer and founding principal in what is now the Baldwin & Shell Construction Company.  After having served on the school board, in 1957 Mr. Knoop became the first Mayor of Little Rock under the “new” city manager form of government and continued to serve the City on various committees even after his term as Mayor ended. Faith Yingling Knoop was a well-published author of magazine articles, textbooks, and children’s books.

The Knoop House’s simple, restrained detailing is typical of the Art Moderne style, as is the emphasis upon large uninterrupted expanses of smooth wall surface, the preference far a light palette and the selection of such modern materials as metal casement windows and glass block.

The Knoop House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in August 1990.