Historic Preservation Ramble

In November, Don went to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Alliance Conference, and I drove down to North Little Rock to join him for the house tours. Because this got us on the mailing list, last week we were invited to the Arkansas Holiday Ramble. We love being house voyeurs, so we persuaded my parents to keep the Little One, and we left for Little Rock about 7 a.m. so we could ramble (which involves eating, drinking, and house ogling — all in a tour bus) across the state, and get home in the middle of the night. (Actually, 1:30 the next morning.)

We saw:

  • a Queen Anne bed and breakfast in Arkadelphia (owned and restored by Henderson State University). It was the university museum for about 20 years before its restoration, and before that it was three apartments upstairs with the family living downstairs. The granddaughter of the family that owned it for most of the 20th century and the restoration architect joined us to show off the house.

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  • an antebellum Greek Revival home in Hollywood (Arkansas). Same restoration architect did this work. The house had been vacant for many, many years (40?) before its present owners kept in the family, but moved it across the highway (one of the oldest roads in the state because it was the Southwest Trail*) and started its restoration. (It has remained in the same family for most of its existence.  This restoration has been in the works since Mrs. House Owner first saw it nearly 30 years ago — She was seventeen, it was Valentine’s Day, she had a big crush on the house and the boyfriend.  She married her boyfriend, who had it in his family, and now it is in their family.)

Hollywood Greek Revival

  • a 1841 log cabin that had been on the 2005 most endangered list as the Noel Owen Neale House. The current owner moved it from near Nashville (Arkansas) to near Washington State Park, and has added two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a geothermal heat pump** (as recently seen in This Old House magazine), while preserving its dogtrot structure and nearly all the original fabric. (The log cabin is surrounded by a collection of old buildings, including a Greek Revival house, a general store, a cotton gin, and a couple of others I have forgotten.)

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  • acres of never used FEMA trailers.  (Not on the tour, but we drove by them.)

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  • a three thousand luminiaria-lit Washington. Washington (founded 1824) was the county seat of Hempstead County, the Confederate capitol of Arkansas after Little Rock was occupied by the Yankees, and is now a state park with a large collection of old houses, mostly ante bellum.
  • We saw the 1856 Crouch house that was used as an example of building techniques, several Greek Revival houses (unpictured), and more (pictured below in order of visitation so I apologize for the growing darkness) — all with hosts in period costumes. This house tour was worth every penny of the $9 ticket (included in the price of the ramble). Next year’s date is December 6. Mark your calendars.
  • Hempstead County’s 1874 Italianate courthouse

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  • The 1847 Trimble House is a spectacular example of Greek Revival. (It is on its original site, just next to the Southwest Trail, and is filled with Thibeau [sp?] replications of its original wallpaper and its original furnishings.  It stayed in the Trimble family until Trimble descendants gave it to the Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation in 1978.  (Representative Harrelson’s blog has a better picture of the Trimble House.  I guess he planned ahead and took a picture in daylight.)

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  • and the 1914 schoolhouse, where we had dinner.

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Speaking of food, we started the tour with screwdrivers and doughnuts, followed by high tea at Captain Henderson’s, followed by eggnog and hot cider (spiking optional) at the first Greek Revival, followed by a box lunch, then cookies and cider on the President’s lawn. Dinner was a chicken/rice/almond dish with a nice green salad, wine, coffee, and desserts. Plenty of holiday calories.

* Both Washington (founded 1824) and Hollywood were located on the Southwest Trail, which connected St. Louis, Missouri to Texas. (Parts of it were known as the Natchitoches Trace.) Sam Houston, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett all used the Southwest Trail as did thousands of Choctaw Indians from Mississippi, who were going to Indian Territory (1832-1839). (Sam Houston was supposed to be a friend of my 4-times-great-grandfather in Tennessee, according to my great-grandfather. His son moved to Arkansas in 1837, and I bet he used the Southwest Trail.)

** I kinda want a geothermal heat pump, but I suspect digging the holes in rocky NW Arkansas would be a deal killer.  That said, we have accredited geothermal heat pump installers in the area.

Then we were chauffeured back to Little Rock, where we arrived at 10:30 p.m., with another three-hour drive home. Next time, we’ll plan to stay the night in Little Rock — perhaps in the 1888 Empress, which is owned by one of our colleagues on the Ramble. (Don and I stayed there a couple of times before the Little One was born — one of the best b&b’s we have ever stayed at. Excellent breakfast and delightful rooms in a wonderful Queen Anne. Sharon says they have added several rooms since we were there last, including spa-like baths. I’ll have to find my photo album dating from our stay there and scan some snapshots in.)

It was a most excellent way to spend a very long day — thanks to my parents for keeping the Little One for us.

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One Response to “Historic Preservation Ramble”

  1. [...] way too early Saturday morning (8 a.m. in Little Rock – 3 hours from home), but, at least for the Christmas ramble, there was orange juice (and mimosas!) and doughnuts on the tour bus, along with something to eat [...]

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