Brown Bag lecture at Old State House today focuses on Robinson Center construction

robinson-auditorium-by-scott-carterToday (Thursday, October 6) at noon at the Old State House, the Brown Bag lecture focuses on the construction of the Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium.

After three decades of failed attempts to build a municipal auditorium in Little Rock, the New Deal finally offered the opportunity to build a structure for performances and conventions. But there were still many roadblocks on the way to the opening of the Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium.

For this Brown Bag Lunch Lecture, Scott Whiteley Carter will examine the changes and chances from October 1935 to April 1940 leading up to the opening of Robinson Auditorium. The period featured a reluctant but triumphant mayor, a crusading newspaper editor, political intrigue, financial chaos, and a plethora of frustration — all ultimately leading to a monument to civic pride.

A native of Little Rock, Carter is Special Projects Administrator at the City of Little Rock. Among his duties in this capacity are research and functioning as the city’s historian.

Learn about Little Rock’s earliest auditorium (which also was a roller rink AND rifle range) today at noon at Old State House Museum Brown Bag Lecture

11805726_10154024863604908_1192217255_nToday at noon, the Old State House Museum will have another Brown Bag Lecture.  This one focuses on three decades of unsuccessful efforts to build a municipal auditorium in Little Rock.  That time period was filled with big dreams, lawsuits, personality clashes, disappointments, and a Roller Rink that was also a Rifle Range.

In April 1904, Little Rock Mayor W. E. Lenon spoke of the need for a municipal auditorium in Little Rock. It would take thirty-six years for that dream to be realized. Along the way there were numerous twists, turns, detours and disappointments as the saga was played out in the newspapers, courtrooms, and offices of every major Little Rock architect at the time.

Until a permanent auditorium could be found, the City made do with vaudeville houses, high schools, and even a roller skating rink which doubled as a rifle range. Over the three decades of planning for an auditorium, some names came and went, others such as Mayor Lenon, architect Charles L. Thompson and Arkansas Gazette publisher J. N. Heiskell appeared time and time again. This Brown Bag Lunch Lecture explores the time period from 1904 to 1934 as it looks at the numerous unsuccessful attempts to construct a municipal auditorium in Little Rock.

In 2016, there will be a Brown Bag Lecture to look at construction and opening of Robinson Center Music Hall.

Scott Whiteley Carter is Special Projects Administrator for the City of Little Rock. As the unofficial historian of Little Rock City Hall, he can often be found leafing through sheaves of papers in the City Clerk’s vault or furiously scribbling notes in Little Rock research libraries. He is also the author of the LRCultureVulture.comblog. A native of Little Rock, he is a graduate of Missouri State University.