For its 55th Spring Tour of Homes, the Quapaw Quarter Association returns to Little Rock's oldest neighborhood.
The MacArthur Park Historic District — whose public enhancements including the park itself, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History and the Arkansas Arts Center — seemed to take a relative back seat to all the progress in the nearby River Market District and its southerly neighbor, the SOMA neighborhood. Lately, the MacArthur district has been the subject of concern that the planned overhaul of Interstate 30 through downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock would bring adverse effects.
All the better for the association to pay homage to it again via the tour, says Patricia Blick, executive director of the association.
"We were founded in November of 1968," she says. "And our primary area of focus at our inception was the MacArthur Park area, because our founders considered it vulnerable to neglect, urban renewal, highway construction ... Our mission now is preserving greater Little Rock's historic places. But MacArthur Park is where it began."
The district made its last tour appearance in 2014, when some of its homes were open along with others in the nearby Governor's Mansion District. An all-MacArthur
Park District tour "hasn't happened in awhile," Blick says.
This time, the district will not share the limelight. Ticket holders will have access to the Mills-Davis House and the Bracy-Manning House, both on East Sixth Street; the Holtzman-Vinsonhaler House on East Ninth Street; the Reichardt House on Welch Street; the Patrick Powers House on Commerce Street; and the Aclin House on Rock Street.
A tour highlight will be the May 11 Candlelight Tour, 5-7 p.m., followed by a 7:30 dinner and silent auction at the Arkansas Arts Center, 501 E. Ninth St. An exclusive tour of the Pollock House on Scott Street will be open only to attendees of the evening event. A May 12 Mother's Day Brunch will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Curran Hall, 615 E. Capitol Ave.
Because of the pending 30 Crossing interstate-overhaul project, "MacArthur Park has been on our mind a great deal" as far as the negative impact it could have on the neighborhood, Blick says. She cites proposals that would add interstate exits in the district.
"We have been assessing the impacts of highway construction on historic properties for 50 years. In the not-too-distant future, unless we can effectively manage it, we anticipate impacts when this last section of [Interstate] 630 is widened. And it ... has the potential to [affect] the MacArthur Park Historic District again, as it did when 630 was originally constructed."
For now, the tour will offer a glimpse into the district as it once was ... at a time when freeways weren't even a dream.
Here's a preview of the grand old houses on the tour, along with some additional tidbits from some of their owners.
• Bracy-Manning House
620 E. Sixth St.
Wearing a red brick-veneer, the Bracy-Manning House was built by Lewis W. Cherry for immediate sale in 1898. This house and the one next door were designed by architect Frank W. Gibb. Both houses were designed with an asymmetrical Queen Anne style form and steep roof lines combined with Classical Revival style details, Shortly after completion the house was bought by pharmacist and civic leader Samuel V. Bracy of the Snodgrass & Bracy drugstore on Main Street. It's now the home of Dan and Julie Hancock.
How long have you lived in the home? Is this your first time being featured in the tour? My wife and I have owed the home since 2012. This is our first time being featured on the tour.
What was the most satisfying and/or fun aspect of renovating this home? The most challenging? Pulling up old carpet from the beautiful staircase and having the wood sanded and refinished was both satisfying and challenging. The "fun" part was seeing the finished product.
What feature do you hope tourgoers will most appreciate? The woodwork and numerous fireplaces.
— Dan Hancock
• Holtzman-Vinsonhaler House
500 E. Ninth St.
Arkansas Arts Center visitors should be well familiar with this house, a large brick structure at East Ninth and Commerce Streets. The Queen Anne house, with its two rounded towers, was built around 1898 by contractor William D. Holtzman, who was born, built several homes, and died on the same block. The house was bought in 1905 by Dr. Frank Vinsonhaler, dean of the University of Arkansas School of Medicine (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences). Owned by Karol and Mark Zoeller, the property has been remodeled to reflect a Colonial Revival style.
How long have you lived in the home? Is this your first time being featured in the tour? I have lived here since 1992. This is not my first time on tour.
What was the most satisfying and/or "fun" aspect of renovating this home? The most challenging? The fun was getting to meet members of the Vinsonhaler family and have them walk through the house and tell stories about the house and help with the original floor plan. The challenge: stripping the white and purple woodwork and putting the house back to single-family (status). It had been two apartments and a law office.
What was your most surprising discovery about the home? Surprise! The attic floor was covered in pigeon droppings — and it had to be cleaned.
— Karol Zoeller
• Powers House
1402 Commerce St.
Owned by Jannette and Danny Brickey, this two-story, colonial-revival house was built around 1910 by contractor Patrick Powers for himself, his wife and seven children. The family lived there until the 1920s. The next owner was Dr. William C. Green, who built a two-story, brick structure along the western edge of the house and turned it into a small clinic. Dr. Green's Hospital was the only private psychiatric facility in Little Rock for the next two decades. After Green's death in 1941, the house became a nursing home, then apartments. More recently it fell into neglect and was extensively damaged by a fire. It was recently restored.
How long have you lived in the home? Is this your first time being featured in the tour? We've lived here just four months now. We bought the property in 2015. Renovations began in late 2017, and we were able to move in at the end of December 2018. This will be our first time joining the QQA tour.
What was the most satisfying and/or "fun" aspect of renovating this home? The most challenging? The renovations to our home were too extensive for us to undertake ourselves. However, we (with the help of some amazing friends) did the entire clean-out of the home prior to the restoration, which was an adventure to say the least. I know our contractor put a painstaking amount of patience and work into restoring and preserving the dentil molding in our home and on the porch.
What was your most surprising discovery about the home? The 8-by-10-foot mural painted in the foyer. Somehow it managed to survive the fire that previously devastated this home. From the moment we laid our eyes on it, we knew it was something special.
What feature do you hope tourgoers will most appreciate? The mural in the foyer holds a truly special place for us, and we hope everyone enjoys it. We also love that our contractor was able to rehabilitate a large portion of the original hardwood floors.
— Jannette Brickey
• Reichardt House
1201 Welch St.
The Reichardt House was originally built on three lots as a one-story, wood frame house by Edward Reichardt, founder of a merchandise and cotton trading business after the Civil War. He married Pauline Brandt and the couple had five children. In 1875, the family enlarged the house to better accommodate its growth. Two rooms were added, as was a porch along the west side of the house and a new front door facing Welch Street, rather than the original entrance facing 12th Street. Original wallpaper adorns the north parlor of the house, which remained in the Reichardt family through the late 20th century and is now owned by Lakresha and Tommy Diaz.
How long have you lived in the home? Is this your first time being featured in the tour? This is our first time on the tour, but the house was on tour in 1975. We've been there 12 years this summer.
What was the most satisfying and/or fun aspect of renovating this home? The most challenging?
I think just seeing the house come back together was the most fun. We're lucky in that although the house was in bad shape and everything needed attention, it was still cared for. The most challenging part of renovating an older home is that it takes more money, and time, than you'd expect.
What was your most surprising discovery about the home? In one of the rooms, we found a really short fence in four pieces, which made no sense at the time. Finally, someone was like, "Oh, it's a Christmas tree fence." If you look it up, you'll see that people used to have much smaller Christmas trees, and they'd put a fence around them, making a square around the tree. Each piece looks like a little picket fence and is probably3 feet wide and 8 inches or a foot tall. We use the pieces to enclose our tiny tabletop Christmas tree.
— Lakresha Diaz
• Pollock House
914 Scott St.
Built during the mid-1870s, the Pollock House features Italianate style architecture with ornamental cornices and brackets under the roof eaves, elaborate porch detailing and tall windows. The house was one of three built on the block by Samuel E. Mandelbaum, a tobacco and cigar merchant. The house has stayed in the family — Mary Bray Kelley, who owns the Pollock home along with her husband, Dick Kelley, is the Mandelbaums' great-great granddaughter.
How long have you lived in the home? Is this your first time being featured in the tour? We have lived in our home since 1995. My ancestors moved here in 1874.
What was the most satisfying and/or "fun" aspect of renovating this home? The kitchen renovation.
What was your most surprising discovery about the home? In a makeshift closet, which had been built in the upstairs hallway, there was an old trunk, which contained old photographs of the family and a needlepoint sampler, which was done by my great-grandmother in 1868.
What feature do you hope tourgoers will most appreciate? The old photographs and portraits of my great-great grandparents.
— Mary Bray Kelley
• The Aclin House
1009 Rock St.
The Craftsman-style house was built around 1911 and had as an early resident Sidney Florsheim and his wife, Bertie. He was the son-in-law of Charles Stifft (he of Stifft Jewelry and Stifft's Addition and Station). Through the mid-20th century, the house served primarily as a boarding house, which was run by Bessie Aclin from the 1930s through the '60s. The house has been through several rounds of restoration and rehabilitation over the last 10 years and is now owned by Erica and David Hudson.
How long have you lived in the home? Is this your first time being featured in the tour? We have lived in our home since August 2018. This is our first tour and we are so excited to be included!
What was the most satisfying/"fun" aspect of renovating this home? The most challenging? We have not done any major restoration on the home.
What was your most surprising discovery about the home? I loved learning about the history of the home from Callie Williams. She was able to find that one of the first residents of the home was Bertie Stifft, daughter of Charles Stifft, and her husband, Sidney Florsheim.
What feature do you hope tourgoers will most appreciate? The incredible woodwork in the home is one of my favorite aspects. I also love the transom windows throughout our home.
— Erica Hudson
Also on the tour
• The Mills-Davis House, 523 E. Sixth St. Built in 1878 by Abraham "Anderson" Mills, a planter/sheriff/Pulaski County Judge, the house got an overhaul around 1900 that included electric lights, indoor plumbing and revival-style fireplace surrounds. After the deaths of Anderson and his wife, Eliza "Eudie" Lefevre Mills, the house came under the ownership of Dr. Emmett N. Davis, then his son, photographer William "Bill" E. Davis.
Jennifer Carman and her friend Donna Thomas did a "painstaking historic rehabilitation" between 2016 and 2018. The house is the headquarters for J. Carman Inc. Fine Art Appraisals.
HomeStyle on 05/04/2019
Print Headline: 55th Spring Tour of Homes centers on MacArthur Park Historic District