Little Rock Look Back: Fine Arts Club opens first public art gallery in Arkansas

Pulaski County Courthouse, site of Fine Arts Club first gallery

On Tuesday, May 15, 1928, the Fine Arts Club opened an art gallery on the fourth floor of the Pulaski County Courthouse. This was the first step toward their dream of creating a visual arts museum.

County Judge C. P. Newton identified space within the Courthouse for the gallery.  It opened with works by 40 Arkansas artists and fifteen from outside of the state. The collection was mainly watercolors and oil paintings.

Judge Newton spoke at the dedication ceremony. Other speakers were Fred W. Allsopp, representing the Fine Arts Club and Janet Hempstead Pierce (making historical remarks prepared by her father, Fay Hempstead, who was unable to attend).

Berta Hamilton Baird, president of the Fine Arts Club presided over the event and also made remarks about May Danaher, the founder of the club. Musical entertainment was provided by Alma Colgan, Toistine Haley, sisters Grace and Elizabeth Schaer, Margaret Farrior, and Lucile Owens.

Among those helping Mrs. Baird and Miss Danaher plan the event were Eula Terral (former First Lady of Arkansas), Mary Chapple Allsopp, Frances Edmonson Almand, Jennie Holmes Tillar, Louise Loughborough, Jean Hollenberg, and Dilla Horrocks among others.

The gallery was open from 2pm to 5:30pm on weekdays.

Seven Mays later, plans were authorized by the City of Little Rock to construct the Museum of Fine Arts in City Park.  In May 1961, the plans were unveiled for the new Arkansas Arts Center (incorporating the existing Museum of Fine Arts building).  Now, 91 years later, the Arkansas Arts Center is preparing for an even bigger future.

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Women Making History – Terri Hollingsworth

On January 1, 2019, Terri Hollingsworth was sworn in as Circuit/County Clerk for Pulaski County.  She is the first African American female to hold the position (and, indeed the first African American of either gender to do so).

Ms. Hollingsworth has worked in management positions in both the public and private sectors and nonprofit organizations. She has served on all levels of government and began her career working for the City of Little Rock as a city planner and later as the economic development administrator. Ms. Hollingsworth has also worked for Arkansas Secretary of State Sharon Priest and was tapped to be the Director of the State Board of Election Commissioners. She managed the board’s daily operations and $3.2 million budget, monitored and effectively communicated the state’s position on election legislation, conducted statewide poll worker training, and was the liaison and primary contact to legislators.

Ms. Hollingsworth served as the Chief Administrative Officer at the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) and oversaw the daily operations of the federal agency, supervision of staff and operational management of board members, elected officials and stakeholders. Terri remains an active member of the Delta Leadership Network which supports the DRA’s work in eight states and the efforts of the Delta Leadership Institute. Before her election, Ms. Hollingsworth served as a senior advisor for business strategy at Peter Damon Group, a national strategic public affairs, business development and event management services firm.

Ms. Hollingsworth is a member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Links, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, and is on the board of Audubon Arkansas. A graduate of Howard University in Washington D.C., she earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Little Rock Look Back: LRSD Choirs sing Christmas Carols on Robinson Auditorium steps

In front of Robinson Center, one of the sculptures is called “Let the Music Play.” 79 years ago today, the music played on the front steps of the building as construction continued on the inside.

On the afternoon of December 18, 1939, 500 school children from elementary schools were joined by the A Capella Choir of Little Rock High School as they sang Christmas carols on the front steps of the auditorium on a weekday afternoon. The singers were accompanied by the Little Rock High School Brass Sextet. The invocation for the event, which was sponsored by the Little Rock Council of Parents and Teachers, was delivered by the Right Reverend Richard Bland Mitchell, the Episcopal Bishop of Arkansas.

A Christmas tree in front of City Hall was lit up as part of the ceremony as well. Media coverage noted that the audience witnessing the program stood on the front steps of the Pulaski County Courthouse, the side lawn of City Hall and in front of the steps of Robinson Auditorium. It was also noted that most windows in the nearby government buildings were filled with people watching the festivities.

Little Rock Look Back: Twelve Jailed Aldermen

The Pulaski County Courthouse where the 12 Little Rock aldermen were arraigned.

On Monday, December 4, 1939, a dozen of Little Rock’s aldermen reported to the county jail to serve sentences for contempt of court.

The previous Monday, the twelve council members had voted against an ordinance which had been ordered by the judge in an improvement district matter.  The other aldermen had either voted in the affirmative or had been absent.  Because the twelve had refused to change their votes since that meeting, the judge ordered them jailed.

At the hearing, the judge brought each alderman up one by one. This seemed to be in order to further embarrass the aldermen.  The judge also interviewed Mayor J. V. Satterfield and City Clerk H. C. “Sport” Graham to put on the record that they had counseled the aldermen to obey the judge’s order.

Mrs. C. C. Conner, the only female alderman, was not jailed but was fined $50. The eleven men were held at the jail, though not in cells.  Newspaper photos showed the men playing cards in a conference room.  In order to get out of jail, the judge gave the aldermen the chance to change their votes.

Mayor J. V. Satterfield plead with the judge to let the aldermen leave the jail to attend the meeting at City Hall, which was nearby.  He requested that the city be allowed to maintain “what little dignity remained” by not having the meeting at the jail.  The judge relented, and the aldermen were escorted by deputies to the council chambers.

After the aldermen changed their votes, the judge suspended the remainder of their sentences.  The sentences were not vacated, they were only suspended.  The judge admonished them that should they attempt to reverse their reversal, he would throw them back in jail.

Little Rock Look Back: Christmas songs on Robinson Center front steps

Today, the Arkansas Symphony wraps up its holiday music concert at Robinson Center.

Similarly, 77 years ago,on December 18, 1939, the sounds of Christmas carols filled the air at Robinson. Only that time it was outside the building, not inside.

That afternoon, 500 school children from elementary schools were joined by the A Capella Choir of Little Rock High School as they sang Christmas carols on the front steps of the auditorium on a weekday afternoon. The singers were accompanied by the Little Rock High School Brass Sextet. The invocation for the event, which was sponsored by the Little Rock Council of Parents and Teachers, was delivered by the Right Reverend Richard Bland Mitchell, the Episcopal Bishop of Arkansas.

A Christmas tree in front of City Hall was lit up as part of the ceremony as well. Media coverage noted that the audience witnessing the program stood on the front steps of the Pulaski County Courthouse, the side lawn of City Hall and in front of the steps of Robinson Auditorium. It was also noted that most windows in the nearby government buildings were filled with people watching the ceremony.

Little Rock Look Back: School Children Sing Christmas Carols at Robinson Auditorium

Christmas Carols

Photo from Arkansas Gazette

Right now, music is silenced at Robinson Center.  During the renovation, violins and tubas have been replaced by saws and heavy equipment.

Similarly, 76 years ago, the halls of that building were alive with only the sounds of construction.  But out front, on December 18, 1939, the sounds of Christmas carols filled the air.

That afternoon, 500 school children from elementary schools were joined by the A Capella Choir of Little Rock High School as they sang Christmas carols on the front steps of the auditorium on a weekday afternoon.  The singers were accompanied by the Little Rock High School Brass Sextet.  The invocation for the event, which was sponsored by the Little Rock Council of Parents and Teachers, was delivered by the Right Reverend Richard Bland Mitchell, the Episcopal Bishop of Arkansas.

A Christmas tree in front of City Hall was lit up as part of the ceremony as well.  Media coverage noted that the audience witnessing the program stood on the front steps of the Pulaski County Courthouse, the side lawn of City Hall and in front of the steps of Robinson Auditorium.  It was also noted that most windows in the nearby government buildings were filled with people watching the ceremony.

Little Rock Look Back: School Children Sing Christmas Carols at Robinson Auditorium

Christmas Carols

Photo from Arkansas Gazette

Right now, music is silenced at Robinson Center.  During the renovation, violins and tubas have been replaced by saws and heavy equipment.

Similarly, 75 years ago, the halls of that building were alive with only the sounds of construction.  But out front, on December 18, 1939, the sounds of Christmas carols filled the air.

That afternoon, 500 school children from elementary schools were joined by the A Capella Choir of Little Rock High School as they sang Christmas carols on the front steps of the auditorium on a weekday afternoon.  The singers were accompanied by the Little Rock High School Brass Sextet.  The invocation for the event, which was sponsored by the Little Rock Council of Parents and Teachers, was delivered by the Right Reverend Richard Bland Mitchell, the Episcopal Bishop of Arkansas.

A Christmas tree in front of City Hall was lit up as part of the ceremony as well.  Media coverage noted that the audience witnessing the program stood on the front steps of the Pulaski County Courthouse, the side lawn of City Hall and in front of the steps of Robinson Auditorium.  It was also noted that most windows in the nearby government buildings were filled with people watching the ceremony.