LR Women Making History – Mary Fletcher Worthen

Mary Fletcher Worthen cultivated history and music with the same grace and skill as she cultivated gardens.

Born outside of Scott, she attended Vassar and Little Rock Junior College. After marrying banker Booker Worthen, she has devoted her life to improving Little Rock. Together with Stella Boyle and George Smith, she and Booker helped found the precursor to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  Through its many iterations, she has been a steadfast supporter and is now a life member of the ASO Board.  She has also been a supporter of many other music organizations in Little Rock including the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock, of which she was a founder.

Another hallmark of her involvement is Mount Holly Cemetery Association.  For over 50 years she has served on the board of this body.  Without notes, she can recite the history of practically every resident buried there.  The tours she would lead with Peg Newton Smith were hot commodities when auctioned at fundraisers.  These two loving and lifelong friends would sometimes remember things differently. They playfully prodded and needled each other as they wended and winded their way through the headstones and history regaling rapt audiences with yarns of yore, quips and quotes, plus an anecdote or two.

She has also served on the Old State House Museum Board and the Pulaski County Historical Society Board.  As a historian, she literally wrote the book on Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.  She combined her interest in herb gardening and history with the creation of the Medicinal Garden at Historic Arkansas Museum, which is now named in her honor.

Born in 1917, up until her final days in 2015 Mary Worthen continued to learn new facts, share her love of history and music, and work to cultivate the next generations of cultural enthusiasts.

LR Women Making History – Peg Newton Smith

While the Culture Vulture remains a huge fan of Peg Newton Smith, it is better for this entry to be taken from a tribute written by her longtime friend Bill Worthen.

Peg Newton Smith was a pioneer in the field of history and historic preservation.  A founder of both the Arkansas Museums Association and the Quapaw Quarter Association, Little Rock’s historic preservation organization, she served as a significant resource for many local history researchers and historians.

Born February 10, 1915, Peg Smith came from a family deeply engaged in Arkansas history. Two Arkansas counties – Newton and Hempstead – are named after ancestors.  She married George Rose Smith, himself from a prominent Arkansas family, in 1938. Peg Smith became his most vigorous supporter as George Rose Smith was elected and  reelected to the State Supreme Court, ultimately offering 38 years of service as Associate Justice.

She  enjoyed a sixty-two year career as a volunteer at the Historic Arkansas Museum, where she served as Commission Chair from 1978 to 1983. On the museum’s first day, she was dressed in period garb as a volunteer.  She was named Chair Emerita of the Commission in 2002. Her commitment to history has also included decades of service on the Mount Holly Cemetery Association Board of Directors, where she was famous with Mary Worthen for tours of the cemetery, often hot items at charity auctions.

Because of her instrumental work for the Arkansas Museums Association and the Quapaw Quarter Association, both organizations named significant annual awards after her. She was appointed to the inaugural Review Committee of the State Historic Preservation Program and with architect Edwin Cromwell was the first Arkansan named to the Board of Advisors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She was appointed to the Arkansas Bicentennial Commission, was elected president of the Junior League of Little Rock, was a founding member of the Board of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas, and was active in the Pulaski County Historical Society.  She also was an early supporter of the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.

She was honored by many groups, being named 1967 Greater Little Rock Woman of the Year by the Arkansas Democrat, Shield of the Trojan Award winner from the UALR Alumni Association in 1979, Fellow of the Museum of Science and History in 1981, and Candlelight Gala Honoree of the Historic Arkansas Museum in 1994. She became the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arkansas Museums Association in 2003.

Peg Newton Smith died on July 20, 2003.

Because of her love of Arkansas history and Arkansas art, the Historic Arkansas Museum commissioned the pARTy for Peg sculpture which dances near the north entrance to the museum.  pARTy for Peg is not a portrait of our dear friend—it is a sculpture inspired by her spirit. It had been her brainchild for the museum to have a separate gallery devoted to contemporary Arkansas artists. She also founded the Museum Store, filled with Arkansas crafts.

2015 In Memoriam – Mary Fletcher Worthen

In these final days of 2015, we pause to look back at 15 who influenced Little Rock’s cultural scene who left us in 2015.

1515 WorthenMary Fletcher Worthen cultivated history and music with the same grace and skill as she cultivated gardens.

Born outside of Scott, she attended Vassar and Little Rock Junior College. After marrying banker Booker Worthen, she devoted her life to improving Little Rock. Together with Stella Boyle and George Smith, she and Booker helped found the precursor to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  Through its many iterations, she was a steadfast supporter and later was named a life member of the ASO Board.  She was also a supporter of many other music organizations in Little Rock including the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock, of which she was a founder.

Another hallmark of her involvement was Mount Holly Cemetery Association.  For over 50 years she served on the board of this body.  Without notes, she could recite the history of practically every resident buried there.  The tours she led with the late Peg Newton Smith were hot commodities when auctioned at fundraisers.  These two loving and lifelong friends would sometimes remember things differently. They playfully prodded and needled each other as they wended and winded their way through the headstones and history regaling rapt audiences with yarns of yore, quips and quotes, plus an anecdote or two.

She also served on the Old State House Museum Board and the Pulaski County Historical Society Board.  As a historian, she literally wrote the book on Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.  She combined her interest in herb gardening and history with the creation of the Medicinal Garden at Historic Arkansas Museum, which is now named in her honor.

Born in 1917, up until her final days Mary Worthen continued to learn new facts, share her love of history and music, and work to cultivate the next generations of cultural enthusiasts.

Pulaski County Historical Society tours the Holtzman-Vinsonhaler House this afternoon

VinsonhalerWhile often the Pulaski County Historical Society hears presentations at its meetings, today the meeting focuses on a tour of a historic Little Rock residence. Refreshments start at 2pm with the tour commencing at 2:30pm.

The Holtzman-Vinsonhaler House stands on the northeast comer of Ninth and Commerce Streets, in Little Rock. This large brick home was constructed about 1898 by William D. Holtzman, a contractor.  Holtzman also built the house two doors to the east, the Holtzman-Vinsonhaler-Vogler House, designed in the Queen Anne Revival style and constructed in the early 1890s (note the stained glass window on its porch) and the W. D. Holtzman house three doors to the east, constructed about 1905 and designed in the Colonial Revival style.  The extended Holtzman family built and/or occupied almost the entire 500 block of East Ninth Street at various times from the 1850s through the 1930s.

Join the PCHS for this wonderful tour to learn the full rich history of one of Little Rock’s most prominent residences.

The Pulaski County Historical Society is dedicated to the following:

 

  • Documenting the history of Pulaski County from the earliest known period to the present.
  • Promoting interest in locating, collecting and preserving historical information on the county’s history.
  • Identifying the contributions of individuals and institutions to the broader community.
  • Popularizing stories of the county’s citizens, its business life and its institutions.
  • Recognizing the relationship of Pulaski County history with that of Arkansas and the South
  • Stimulating research and its presentation.
  • Publishing information about the county’s history.
  • Marking historic places.

LR Cultural Touchstone: Mary Fletcher Worthen

JJLR-MaryWorthen-MayMary Fletcher Worthen has cultivated history and music with the same grace and skill as she has cultivated gardens.

Born outside of Scott, she attended Vassar and Little Rock Junior College. After marrying banker Booker Worthen, she has devoted her life to improving Little Rock. Together with Stella Boyle and George Smith, she and Booker helped found the precursor to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  Through its many iterations, she has been a steadfast supporter and is now a life member of the ASO Board.  She has also been a supporter of many other music organizations in Little Rock including the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock, of which she was a founder.

Another hallmark of her involvement is Mount Holly Cemetery Association.  For over 50 years she has served on the board of this body.  Without notes, she can recite the history of practically every resident buried there.  The tours she would lead with the late Peg Newton Smith were hot commodities when auctioned at fundraisers.  These two loving and lifelong friends would sometimes remember things differently. They playfully prodded and needled each other as they wended and winded their way through the headstones and history regaling rapt audiences with yarns of yore, quips and quotes, plus an anecdote or two.  In the decade since Peg passed, Mary has continued to entertain and engage visitors to the cemetery, especially at the annual Mount Holly Rest in Perpetuity (RIP) picnic.

She has also served on the Old State House Museum Board and the Pulaski County Historical Society Board.  As a historian, she literally wrote the book on Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.  She combined her interest in herb gardening and history with the creation of the Medicinal Garden at Historic Arkansas Museum, which is now named in her honor.

Born in 1917, Mary Worthen continues to learn new facts, share her love of history and music, and works to cultivate the next generations of cultural enthusiasts.

 

LR Cultural Touchstone: Peg Newton Smith

peg_3While the Culture Vulture remains a huge fan of Peg Newton Smith, it is better for this entry to be taken from a tribute written by her longtime friend Bill Worthen.

Peg Newton Smith was a pioneer in the field of history and historic preservation.  A founder of both the Arkansas Museums Association and the Quapaw Quarter Association, Little Rock’s historic preservation organization, she served as a significant resource for many local history researchers and historians.

Born February 10, 1915, Peg Smith came from a family deeply engaged in Arkansas history. Two Arkansas counties – Newton and Hempstead – are named after ancestors.  She married George Rose Smith, himself from a prominent Arkansas family, in 1938. Peg Smith became his most vigorous supporter as George Rose Smith was elected and  reelected to the State Supreme Court, ultimately offering 38 years of service as Associate Justice.

She  enjoyed a sixty-two year career as a volunteer at the Historic Arkansas Museum, where she served as Commission Chair from 1978 to 1983. On the museum’s first day, she was dressed in period garb as a volunteer.  She was named Chair Emerita of the Commission in 2002. Her commitment to history has also included decades of service on the Mount Holly Cemetery Association Board of Directors, where she was famous with Mary Worthen for tours of the cemetery, often hot items at charity auctions.

Because of her instrumental work for the Arkansas Museums Association and the Quapaw Quarter Association, both organizations named significant annual awards after her. She was appointed to the inaugural Review Committee of the State Historic Preservation Program and with architect Edwin Cromwell was the first Arkansan named to the Board of Advisors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She was appointed to the Arkansas Bicentennial Commission, was elected president of the Junior League of Little Rock, was a founding member of the Board of the Historic Preservation
Alliance of Arkansas, and was active in the Pulaski County Historical Society.  She also was an early supporter of the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.

She was honored by many groups, being named 1967 Greater Little Rock Woman of the Year by the Arkansas Democrat, Shield of the Trojan Award winner from the UALR Alumni Association in 1979, Fellow of the Museum of Science and History in 1981, and Candlelight Gala Honoree of the Historic Arkansas Museum in 1994. She became the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arkansas Museums Association in 2003.

Peg Newton Smith died on July 20, 2003.

Because of her love of Arkansas history and Arkansas art, the Historic Arkansas Museum commissioned the pARTy for Peg sculpture which dances near the north entrance to the museum.  pARTy for Peg is not a portrait of our dear friend—it is a sculpture inspired by her spirit. It had been her brainchild for the museum to have a separate gallery devoted to contemporary Arkansas artists. She also founded the Museum Store, filled with Arkansas crafts.

 

LR Cultural Touchstone: Margaret Deane Smith Ross

Ross bookMargaret Deane Smith Ross was born August 24, 1922 in Central Arkansas.  She attended both what is now Arkansas Tech University and the University of Arkansas. A journalism major at the latter, she left the university before graduating to marry Captain Edwin L. Ross in September 1942; he was killed in combat in Normandy on July 4, 1944.

Following the death of her husband, she lived in Little Rock and worked as a freelance writer for the Arkansas Democrat. In 1953 she became an associate editor of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, a position she retained until 1993. She was a charter member of the Pulaski County Historical Society, and from 1953 to 1957 served as its journal’s first editor. From 1954 to 1957 she was a research assistant at Arkansas History Commission.

In 1957 she became the Arkansas Gazette historian and curator of the J.N. Heiskell Collection of Arkansiana; she remained with the Gazette for twenty-seven years. From 1958 to 1968 she wrote a historical column for the Gazette, the “Chronicles of Arkansas.” She was a charter member of the Arkansas Genealogical Society, founded by Walter Lemke in 1962. In 1968 she became a member of the Arkansas Historical Association’s board of directors, a position she occupied until 1980. In 1969 she published a book, Arkansas Gazette: The Early Years, 1819-1866: A History; it received the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. From 1979 to 1984 she wrote “Grass Roots,” a genealogical column for the Gazette. Also in 1979 she became the first fellow of the Arkansas Museum of Science and History. In April 2000 she received a lifetime achievement award from the Arkansas Historical Association.

As a historian for the Gazette, she became the de facto historian for the State of Arkansas.  Her knowledge of Arkansas history was unsurpassed during her lifetime.  She also served as an unofficial teacher to generations who were interested in learning more about the history of their state, and how to do that research.

 

She died in Little Rock in December 2002.