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.

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Little Rock Look Back: The Man behind Little Rock’s Villa Marre

On September 11, 1842, future Little Rock Alderman Angelo Marre was born in Borzonaca, Italy.  He immigrated to Tennessee with his parents in 1854.

During the Civil War, he served in the Confederate Army. From 1865 to 1868, Angelo Marre worked for the Memphis Police Department but was forced to resign after he was accused of killing a man during an argument.  After his acquittal, he returned to the saloon business.  In 1872 Marre was convicted of stealing money and sentenced to three years in prison.

Tennessee Governor John Brown granted Marre a full pardon two years into his sentence, and he regained his citizenship in 1879.

After getting out of prison, he claimed an inheritance and joined his brothers in Little Rock.  He worked as a bartender at the Metropolitan Hotel.  He later opened a saloon and billiard parlor.

By the mid-1880s, Marre owned two saloons, a liquor import business, an office building in downtown LR, 3,000 sharesof stock in mining companies operating in Garland and Montgomery counties, and he was the first president of Edison Electric Company of LR.

In 1883, he was elected as an alderman on the Little Rock City Council.  He lost is bid for reelection in 1885. In 1888, he was an unsuccessful candidate for Pulaski County Sheriff.

villamarreAngelo Marre died February 18, 1889, as a result of his infection.  He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in LR. His custom designed, marble monument was ordered from Florence, Italy, and cost $5,000.

Marre is probably best known today as the builder of the structure now known as the Villa Marre.  Built in 1881, it is designed in the Italianate and Second Empire styles.  It was built in 1881 and 1882 on Block 21, Lots 5 & 6 of the Original City of Little Rock.  The cost was $5,000.

It was originally a red brick structure and has been modified and expanded several times as well as painted white.  It did not bear the name Villa Marre until the 1960s when historic preservation advocate Jimmy Strawn gave it that name.

After serving as the headquarters for the Quapaw Quarter Association for several years, it was returned to a private residence.  It is now available for special events and rentals.

The Villa Marre is probably best known locally and nationally for serving as the facade for the Sugarbaker design firm on the CBS sitcom “Designing Women.”  Though the interior of the house does not match the interior on TV, the building was featured in the opening credits as well as in exterior shots each week.

Two Centuries of the Quapaw Line

Stones placed in Riverfront Park denote where there Quapaw Line started from La Petite Roche

On August 24, 1818, the Quapaw Line was drawn.  Starting at La Petite Roche and heading due south, this line formed the boundary between the Quapaw tribal lands and public lands available for settlement.  (In the 1810s and 1820s, the Quapaw alternated between Central Arkansas and Northwest Louisiana depending on preferences of the tribal leadership.)

Though by 1824, the Quapaw were forced to give up all of their lands in the area, the line continued serve as an important marker.   In the ensuing six years, the first permanent settlement of Little Rock took place and streets were planned.

The 1818 treaty referred to La Petite Roche as the Little Rock.  Some have speculated that this is the first official use of “Little Rock” to designate the outcropping and to name the area.  When the U.S. Post Office was established in March 1820, it was given the name Little Rock.

There is a marker commemorating the beginning of the Quapaw Line located at La Petite Roche in Riverfront Park.  The first segment of the line is also noted in the park.  There are also sunken markers place along the line at various points.  In MacArthur Park, at the corner of 9th and Commerce Streets, there is a marker noting that the line passed through at that location.  A few years ago, engineers from Garver retraced the line using modern technology. They found the original surveyors’ work to be extremely accurate.

A good account of walking the Quapaw Line through downtown Little Rock can be found on this website.

Most of what is now called the Quapaw Quarter was located to the west of the Quapaw Line.  However, it did take its name from the fact that the tribe had once lived in that area and was later sequestered to lands near it.  The name for the area was chosen by a committee composed of David D. Terry, Peg Newton Smith, Mrs. Walter Riddick Sr., Dr. John L. Ferguson, and James Hatcher. They had been appointed to a Significant Structures Technical Advisory Committee to advocate for preservation of important structures as a component of the City of Little Rock’s urban renewal efforts.

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.

Little Rock Look Back: 199 Years of the Quapaw Line

Stones placed in Riverfront Park denote where there Quapaw Line started from La Petite Roche

Stones placed in Riverfront Park denote where there Quapaw Line started from La Petite Roche

On August 24, 1818, the Quapaw Line was drawn.  Starting at La Petite Roche and heading due south, this line formed the boundary between the Quapaw tribe lands and public lands available for settlement.  Though by 1824, the Quapaw were forced to give up all of their lands, the line continued serve as an important marker.  In the ensuing six years, the first permanent settlement of Little Rock took place and streets were planned.It is interesting to note that the 1818 treaty referred to La Petite Roche as the Little Rock.  Some have speculated that this is the first official use of “Little Rock” to designate the outcropping.  When the Post Office was established in March 1820, it was given the name Little Rock.

There is a marker commemorating the beginning of the Quapaw Line located at La Petite Roche in Riverfront Park.  The first segment of the line is also noted in the park.  There are also sunken markers place along the line at various points.  In MacArthur Park, at the corner of 9th and Commerce Streets, there is a marker noting that the line passed through at that location.

A good account of walking the Quapaw Line through downtown Little Rock can be found on this website.

Most of what is now called the Quapaw Quarter was located to the west of the Quapaw Line.  However, it did take its name from the fact that the tribe had once lived in that area and was later sequestered to lands near it.  The name for the area was chosen by a committee composed of David D. Terry, Peg Newton Smith, Mrs. Walter Riddick Sr., Dr. John L. Ferguson, and James Hatcher. They had been appointed to a Significant Structures Technical Advisory Committee to advocate for preservation of important structures as a component of the City of Little Rock’s urban renewal efforts.

Arkansas Gives today from 8am to 8pm

If you are like me, you’ve been receiving notifications about Arkansas Gives Day for months.  Well, today is the day!  From 8am until 8pm, you can help grow the love for Arkansas’s nonprofit organizations by making a donation to the charity of your choice.  The event is sponsored by the Arkansas Community Foundation.

As a special incentive to give, each gift made through ArkansasGives on April 6, 2017, will be matched with additional bonus dollars; the more you give, the more bonus dollars your favorite charity will receive.

Nonprofit organizations and other tax-exempt charitable organizations may participate if they:

  • Are headquartered in Arkansas or have a base of operations in Arkansas.
  • Have 501(c)(3) tax exempt status under IRS code AND are qualified as a 509(a)(1), (a)(2) or (a)(3) organization or as a private operating foundation.

The minimum amount is $25; there is no maximum amount you may give. You may designate up to 10 charities per transaction.

Accepted Forms of Payment: Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express credit cards online.
You will receive an email receipt of your gift; please retain it for tax purposes. Unless you choose to remain anonymous, your donor information will be sent to the nonprofits to which you give.

Here is a list of cultural organizations which offer services within the boundaries of the City of Little Rock.

 

There are MANY MANY MANY other worthy nonprofits which are participating. But since this is a culture blog, only the cultural institutions are listed.  But please consider visiting the website and perusing the entire list.

Hillcrest Historic District to be site of 52nd Quapaw Quarter Spring Tour

qqa tourThe Quapaw Quarter Association (QQA) will host its 52nd Spring Tour on Mother’s Day Weekend, May 7-8 in the Hillcrest Historic District.
The Spring Tour of Homes has been held since 1963 with the purpose of fostering appreciation of historic buildings and neighborhoods and the need for their preservation.  The Tour was last year’s recipient of the Grand Old Classic Special Event Award at the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism’s Henry Awards.  The 52nd Spring Tour will feature interior access to five historic homes, four of which have never before been on tour.
“The Spring Tour is our best tool to build pride in historic neighborhoods and encourage continued investment in our city’s architectural heritage” said QQA President Jarrod Johnson.  “The Tour is a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day and experience one of Little Rock’s unique neighborhoods.”
The 52nd Spring Tour will feature the homes at 516 Ridgeway, 478 Ridgeway, the Canby House at 420 Midland, the Ashcroft House at 444 Fairfax Avenue, and the Foster-Cochran House at 3724 Hill Road.  Pulaski Heights Elementary and Middle Schools will also be open with student-led tours.  The Candlelight Tour on Saturday evening will include the special additions of the house at 319 Midland, a champagne stop at the Storthz House at 450 Midland, and the chapel at Pulaski Heights Presbyterian Church, followed by a party in the church’s fellowship hall.
In a new addition to the tour this year, the students in the Gifted and Talented Programs at Pulaski Heights Elementary and Middle Schools are doing research on the history of about 100 structures in Hillcrest, many of them the student’s own home.  Signs will be mounted in the yards or windows of these buildings that explain the history of the structure.  The signs will be temporarily posted, creating a walking tour throughout the neighborhood during the weekend of the Spring Tour.  In the process, the students will learn about the history of the community that they live in or utilize every day and how to use primary and historic resources when doing research.  The QQA hopes that residents of Hillcrest and Spring Tour-goers will take advantage of the walking tour to learn more about and appreciate the history of this historic community.
The tour will be open Saturday and Sunday afternoons; tickets may be purchased in advance for $20, or on site for $30.  Kids 10 and under are free.  The Candlelight Tour and Party tickets start at $125 per person and include afternoon tours.  Other activities will be a Sunday Brunch at Curran Hall and specials at neighborhood businesses.
Find more information and tickets at www.quapaw.com or at the Little Rock Visitor Information Center at Historic Curran Hall at 615 E. Capitol Avenue. You may also call 501-371-0075. Proceeds benefit the historic preservation programs of the QQA.
For social media, the QQA encourages attendees to use #QQASpringTour as the official event hashtag.