2007 Most Endangered Places
The Woodruff House in Little Rock is one of the city’s earliest stately homes. This large brick Greek Revival house was built by the founder of the Arkansas Gazette, a publication that still exists today as the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A fire in recent years compounded the earlier damage to this building stemming from its use as apartments. Now with the recent development of the area around the Presidential Library and Heifer International, the land this historic residence sits on has increased pressure for commercial development. The Woodruff House should be part of this renewal in this part of Little Rock, not a casualty of it.
The Mountainaire Apartments in Hot Springs are one of the finest examples of Art Moderne architecture in the area and perhaps even in the state. Originally built as a hotel in the mid-century motor tourism boom of Hot Springs, these twin buildings have stood vacant for almost twenty years. A restoration effort in the early 1990s began and fizzled, but not before a majority of the interiors were stripped out. In more recent years, the roof has begun to leak, compounding the deterioration of the interior. The Mountainaire could still join the numerous preservation success stories in Hot Springs, but time is running out.
Salem Community School-Still In Danger
The Salem Community School in Fayetteville is one of the few remaining one-room schoolhouse in Northwest Arkansas. The school served the small community of Salem for more than 30 years until it was consolidated with the Fayetteville Public Schools. Not being practical for modern day education, the school became a community hall—hosting civic events and meetings. However, even those uses ceased in recent decades as the population grew smaller and older. A leaking roof has been temporarily halted with a donated plastic cover, but not before some water damage had occurred. The community has grand ideas but little money to save this glimpse into their past.
Also, since the school was put on the list, it has deteriorated drastically, and during the past winter, several trees fell over it in an ice storm.
The Berger-Graham House in Jonesboro is one of the few residential home in Arkansas built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. Despite good intentions to restore it to a residential property after numerous alterations through other uses over the years, the city of Jonesboro condemned the property along with several nearby properties. While the exterior is in good condition, the interior remains out of housing code. Work on the house has proceeded in fits and starts over the years, but the impending condemnation of the property puts it at an increased risk if appropriate measures are not taken in the near future. The owner has put in new wiring, plumbing, and has replaced 2 of the 4 HVAC units. He is also working with city officials for extensions and is trying to restore the home to its historical accuracy, but has had no help.
Pitman’s Ferry in Randolph County is a site ripe with history from the earliest days of Arkansas. The ferry site itself was the first river ferry in Arkansas known as the “Gateway Into Arkansas” and a landmark for early pioneers. Nearby Indian Ford was a crossing on a route of the Cherokee Trail of Tears. Also the site of four Civil War skirmishes, the Pitman’s Ferry area contains a number of trenches, rifle pits and cannon emplacements still visible today. The property is now primarily leased out for row crop farming, potentially destructive to the archaeological artifacts from the early to mid 18th Century located in the area. Riverfront development on the recreational Current River also threatens the riverside historical sites, such as the Ferry and Indian Ford. 5 Rivers Preservation, Inc., a local nonprofit organization, has identified the area as one of the richest in history for Randolph County and this corner of the state.
Dunbar Historic Neighborhood in Little Rock is one of several historic neighborhoods situated close to downtown. Yet it is one that has not been formally recognized as a historic district. Sandwiched between two of Little Rock’s more visible districts, Governor’s Mansion and Central High, Dunbar was home to many of Little Rock’s leaders in the black community since the Civil War, including six of the “Little Rock Nine”. Urban renewal in the 1950s resulted in the demolition of many historic homes in this neighborhood. Reinvestment has been slow to return to the area and vacant weed lots still dot the neighborhood where houses once stood. By recognizing the historic and architectural importance of this urban neighborhood, reinvestment proceeding in the Central High District could spill over to renew Dunbar as well.
Carlson Terrace on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville is one of only three buildings on the campus designed by internationally known Edward Durell Stone. Stone was a pioneer and advocate of the Modern movement in America who stressed function above all else. Carlson Terrace was designed as efficient, functional housing that created a sense of community; a role it filled for Arkansas GI bill students returning home. Before its demolition in July of 2007,Carlson Terrace ha deteriorated into undesirable housing.
Campbell Cemetery-Still in Danger
Campbell Cemetery in Randolph County is in an area known locally as “The Point”. “The Point” dates from the earliest formation of the Arkansas Territory and was the site of the first court held in Lawrence County. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Campbell Cemetery is significant for its association with early figures in the county’s history and its unique raised limestone grave markers. The cemetery now sits in a pasture and livestock wander between and damage the grave sites. With the installation of a protective fence and restoration of the grave sites, Campbell Cemetery can be saved for future generations.
Forest Fire Lookouts built all across Arkansas in the 1920s and 1930s, primarily by the Civilian Conservation Corps, were once the first and only line of communication when a forest fire struck, allowing rapid response to a fire. With the advent of modern fire detection techniques in the 1970's, the towers ceased to be used. Arkansas originally had at least 173 lookouts. There may be as many as 48 still standing, but 125 of them have definitely gone. Those that do remain are mainly due to the efficiency of attaching modern telecommunications equipment to them. Situated on national and state forest lands or on private property, they present a unique problem for saving as a whole. The Arkansas Forest Fire Lookout Association is an organization dedicated to documenting and preserving these important pieces of the history of Arkansas’s forests.