Little Rock's parks contain many landmarks that we enjoyed seeing.
Riverfront Park lies along the Arkansas River, & the "little rock" for which the city of Little Rock was named is located there. This park is a riverside promenade downtown.
The "little rock" was partially destroyed during the construction of a railroad bridge over the Arkansas River. (Markham Street and LaHarpe Boulevard)
MacArthur Park at 9th & Commerce streets is home to The Arkansas Museum of Science & History. It has exhibits on Arkansas's Native American cultures, pre-history, geology, & pioneer days. There's dinosaur bones and other area fossils. This building was constructed to be an arsenal (1842) & was part of a military post. But, most important to me was that General Douglas MacArthur was born at this post. That's why the present-day city park is named after him. My own borther was also named after Douglas MacArthur. Arkansas Arts Center in the park houses galleries in which drawings, paintings, & sculptures from the 1500s to the present are displayed. The Arkansas Children's Theatre is also here.
Confederate General Albert Pike's home is near MacArthur Park.
Today, Pike's home is the site of The Decorative Arts Museum where baskets, quilts, & other crafts are displayed. Rooms have been converted into galleries, which display glassware, furniture, & textiles.
War Memorial Park is the location of the Little Rock Zoo, which is noted for its apes who live in a natural setting. There are more than 500 animals on 40 acres.
In the park there are amusement rides, golf, tennis, picnicking, & a fitness center.
In November of 2004, the Clinton Presidential Center and Park opened on the banks of the Arkansas River. It's a 30-acre park with a huge library & museum. It symbolizes Little Rock's Downtown revitalization efforts.
I have not seen it; now I have a good reason to return to Little Rock!
This quaint 19-century town of Eureka Springs is tucked into a mountainside. It has narrow streets with charming shops. A tour guide told us that within months of its founding (July 4, 1879), the population of Eureka Springs soared to ten thousand people!
This famous spa resort town has 63 springs. The town built several elegant bathhouses and hotels, including the famous Crescent Hotel situated at the top of one of the city's hills. It's a five-story "castle in the wilderness" that was built of locally quarried limestone (Eureka's first stone structure.).
The nickname for Eureka Springs is "America's Victorian Village" because the entire town is on the Historical Register!
Its mountainside location gives it an unusual topography. We were told that the lowest street runs 1,000 feet below the highest street & that no town street crosses another at a right angle!
Would you believe that Elizabeth Catholic Church is the only church in North America where parishioners enter through the bell tower!
Eureka Springs has embraced its Victorian heritage so successfully that the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Eureka Springs as one of its "Dozen Distinct Destinations."
Rosalie House was named for a house in Natchez, Mississippi, & was built for Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Hill in 1883. Hill started his business with a single horse and buggy & turned it into a prosperous transportation business when Eureka Springs was a fast-growing resort town. (see photo) It's a Queen Anne blend (1883) & has lots of spindles, balls, and semi-circles. The interior has plaster frescoes & gold-leaf decorations.(282 Spring Street, 501-253-7377).
The original "Indian Healing Spring" is now called Basin Spring & is located downtown in Basin Park, which is part of the Eureka Springs Historic District.
The reason that Allan & I came here was because our brother-in-law "raved" about it. We drove from MIssouri where we were staying at the time. The architecture is incredible.
A second impressive public building after the Old State House is the new statehouse, The State Capital. Located at Capitol and Woodland streets, it has stood here since 1911, probably because it's built of gray limestone from Batesville, Arkansas. If it looks familiar, that is because it's a small replica of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Actually, it's one fourth the size of the U.S. Capitol.
The interior features a lovely marble rotunda and staircases. (See photo of staircase). The chandelier in its rotunda (made by Tiffany and Company in New York) weighs two tons! The brass front doors were also built by Tiffany and company.
This Capitol is located almost in the exact center of the state.
Because the Arkansas capitol looks like the one in Washington, many moviemakers use it when they are filming scenes about the U.S. government.
The capitol complex includes a Vietnam Memorial, the Liberty Bell Pavilion, and landscaped gardens. I especially loved the landscaped gardens. On the South lawn is 1,600-bush rose garden with 150 varieties--a sight to behold!
On the fourth floor of the building, there are exhibits on Arkansas geology and history.
Hours: 9-4 Monday-Friday
Guided tours are available.
If you are fascinated by architecture, history, and restoration, then Little Rock, Arkasas, will impress you.
Little Rock is near the state's center; it has been the Arkansas capital since 1821, probably because of its location, and because it's the state's largest city with a population of about 175,000.
The Arkansas Territorial Restoration is in Little Rock, and the buildings show life in Arkansas before the Civil War. This area takes up an entire block northeast of 3rd and Scott streets. It's comprised of a modern reception center and four restored nineteenth-century buildings .
Little Rock's oldest structure is The Jesse Hinderliter House. This house has the sleeping quarters and an office upstairs. On the ground floor, Hinderliter operated a grog shop! (See photo of the desk in an upstairs room)
Of interest are the English boxwood plantings from George Washington's Mt. Vernon estate at the modest Brownlee-Noland House. It also has hand-carved doors and mantels.
Part of the interior of the Woodruff House has been made into a time-line of Arkansas's history. Here, they display newspaper pages from territorial days through the beginning of the Civil War.
The fourth home is called the McVicar-Conway House, and it was built in the 1840s.
9-5 Monday - Saturday
There is a Fee
Quapaw Quarter in downtown Little Rock is the oldest section of the city. This area is really southeast of downtown. Here is where we saw American Queen Anne-, Colonial Revival-, and Second Empire-style architecture in a mixed area of both business and residential buildings.
The name "Quapaw" comes from the Quapaw Indians. The residences here are basically PRIVATE.
Thank goodness Little Rock preserves many historic homes in this area. One famous home is called Villa Marre. It appeared on the TV show, "Designing Women" It's a restored Italianate mansion with ornate parquet floors, highly decorated stenciled ceilings, and walnut woodwork. Lots of beautiful Victorian, Edwardian, and American Empire antiques are used to furnish Villa Marre. The ornate carved wood fireplace is original. The home has a ten-foot-deep granite foundation. It is open for tours. (Scott Street).
Be sure to see this wonderful architectual jewel of an area!
South of the Riverfront Park is the historic section of downtown Little Rock known as the Quapaw Quarter. Just beyond the park in this area is the Old State House, which is now a historical museum where we visited the restored legislative meeting rooms and the governor's office.
It's a gracious Greek Revival style structure that was popular in the mid-nineteenth century. At the museum, we were told that this building is constructed of handmade bricks.
In the museum, there's a "cool" area called Granny's Attic, which is a gallery of hands-on exhibits. Here, we could actually "touch" items and play with them or use them!
It was so refreshing to see this original State House restored to its original splendor and also being used to teach us about the way times used to be and used to look.
Make sure you see it.
Devils Den caves rock, deep in the valley of the Boston Mountains. Wheter you are a newbie to climbing or have years of rock time, this is the place to be! The campground surrounding the area is always fun and great for family outings. Only a short hike from the campsites lead you to the mouth of the cave, a small and daunting crack in the wall. The first 200 ft or so is easy to walk. After that you'd better have a head lamp because you'll need free hands. Slippery and cold rocks will ruin nice clothes, so expect to get dirty. Another 20 minutes of climbing will get you to the tunnel where you can find the bats flying at head level! After this is a belly crawl, but the exit has been blocked now, but the return climb is just as exciting on the way back. Also fishing, horse riding, a pool, small cafe, and lots of hiking. A great outdoor get away!
It would be more appropriate to name this place the Arkansas Posts National Memorial since there have been several posts on or near this site. Although Spanish explorer Hernan de Soto passed this way in 1542, and Father Marquette a French Missionary passed this way in 1682, the first Arkansas Post was not established until 1686 when Henri de Tonti settled in the area and built the post. This post was established for the Bourbons of France, and predated the settlement of New Orleans by 32 years. Later, the flags of Spain, Napoleonic France,the United States, and the Confederate States of America would fly over the seven different posts established here. This was also the site of a Civil War Battle.
One of the reasons people kept coming to this place was it's location on the Arkansas River. The life and history of the town and the posts are tied to this river.
An American Town was established here in 1805. This was a major economic hub for the Arkansas Territory and served as the capitol for two years from 1819 to 1821. The town's demise started with the CivilWar. This disrupted traffic on the river and the economy of the town collapsed. The town was also almost totally destroyed by bombardment by Union Troops. The town never recovered. The area was declared a state park in 1929 and a National Memorial in 1960.
Sports available in the area include fishing, boating and hiking.
For more information see my Arkansas Post National Memorial Page.
Of course one of the main things to do at Hot Springs National Park is to go to bathhouse row and experience the springs. People have flocked to the area since the mid 1800s to experience the healing powers and just plain comfort from the hot natural water. Bathhouse row started then and has changed in some ways and stayed the same in some. Of the eight original buildings on the row; one is now the visitor's center and two (I think) function as bathhouses.
There is a nice drive up one of the mountains belonging to the park right near bathhouse row. The road is very twisty with tight turns but the view at the top is worth it.
At the top of the mountain is a viewing tower. The tower is run by a private organization and was fairly expensive. The view from the free viewpoint was good enough for me.
Other things to do at the park include hiking and having a picnic.
I happened to be there when they were having a Challenger/Charger rally so my car and I fit right in.
For more information see my Hot Springs National Park Page.
The Arkansas Post Museum State Park is kind of a companion piece to the Arkansas Post National Memorial. It consists of several buildings and artifacts from the early history of the area. They are also trying to preserve the prairie grass native to Arkansas by replanting 4 acres of the grass.
The different buildings are set up with appropriate artifacts and items to their function. The main area for other artifacts and displays is the Peterson Building. The Peterson Building was named after John L. Peterson who was instrumental in getting the park started. They also have an early pioneer kitchen. The kitchen was frequently built in a separate building from the main house. This was done for safety reasons and to keep the heat from the kitchen from affecting the house during the summer.
For more information see my Arkansas Post Page.
Queen Wilhelmina State Park is perched high in the Ouachita Mountains. I was there in June and the park was a welcome relief from the high 90 degree weather in the lowlands. The park was much cooler and the views were spectacular.
The park has had well-known luxurious lodging since 1898. The currect lodge is certainly no exception. The lobby is very impressive and the 38 guest rooms are (reportedly, I did not see them) also very nice. Good restaurant too.
In addition there are other things to do like hike (although the trails were closed when I was there due to an angry black bear) mini-golf, train rides, and other activities. This is a very nice park!
For more information see my Queen Wilhelmina State Park Page.
DeWitt (or De Witt) is the county seat of Arkansas County and has a population approaching 4000. I found it to be a pleasant little town with a friendly populace and a nice historic district. Interestingly, the town name came from writing three proposed names on slips of paper and drawing them from a hat. The main Historic District surrounds the County Court House.
There was a small farmer's market going on when I visited the town. The people were very friendly, and the vegetables very fresh.
While here stop at Lizzie's a nice restaurant across from the courthouse.
Helena and West Helena used to be separate cities but were merged in 2006. West Helena is the more modernized part with most of the fast food, motels etc., and Helena has most of the old part of town. The Phillips County Court House (Photo 1) is also in the Helena part of town. The town has a combined population of over 15,000. There is also the Cherry Streey Historic District and there are a number of neat old mansions in town like the Pillow-Thompson House which is owned and operated by the Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, and was built in 1896 using the Queen Anne style of architecture (Photo 2); the Solomon House and Magnolia Hill. Helena is also home to the Centennial Baptist Church (Photo 3) which is is the only known Arkansas example of an African-American church designed by an African-American architect, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The church was built in 1905 using the Gothic Revival style of architecture by African-American architect Henry James Price. Helena was the site of the first Christian service held west of the Mississippi, on 25 June 1541, and held by Spanish Explorer Hernando de Soto (Photo 4). Helena also has Battery C Park which is a battleground from the Civil War and a nice place to relax.
For more information see my Helena Page.
The building housing the Phillips County Museum was built in 1891 and the museum displays various artifacts including early paintings, a Thomas Edison Collection, Native American items, letters from General Lafayette, General Robert E. Lee, and other Civil War artifacts. Hours are 10 AM to 4 PM Tuesday through Saturday. The museum is closed on Sunday and Monday. The facility is handicapped accessible.
Mena is the county seat of Polk County and has a population of around 6000. It is located in the far west central part of the state near Oklahoma. The court house was built in 1939. Frankly, I liked the Mena City Hall better than the Polk County Court House. The city hall was built in 1917 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Mena also has an historic district, and is located near the beautiful Queen Wilhelmina State Park.
For more information see my Mena and Queen Wilhelmina State Park Pages.
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