Walks Through History
The “Walks through History” tour series features historic sites or districts around Arkansas each month. The tours are organized by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. All tours are held on Saturdays and begin at 11:00 a.m., unless otherwise indicated, and last between one and two hours. An AHPP historian delivers a lecture about the properties while leading guests on a walking tour. All tours are free and open to the public.
Walks Through History Schedule
- May 13: Downtown Hope Commercial District
- June 10: Arkansas Tech University
- July 15: Downtown Searcy
- August 12: Siloam Springs Downtown Historic District
- September 9: Mountain Home Commercial Historic District
- October 14: Camp Chaffee Historic District
- November 11: Dumas Downtown Historic District
- December 9: El Dorado Historic Downtown
Downtown Hope Commercial District/May 13, 2017
Please join us for this walking tour that begins at Hope City Hall beginning at 11 AM. Our tour progresses from Hope City Hall, where Elvis Presley once performed in its auditorium, through Hope's Downtown District, which was once frequented by some of Arkansas's most prominent favorite sons such as President Bill Clinton, Governor Mike Huckabee, U.S. Senator Lloyd Spencer, and Secretary of State Kelly Bryant. The district takes in a two-block area of downtown Hope, Arkansas. The area consists for the most part of commercial brick buildings one or two stories in height, with relatively plain styling. Most of these were built between 1880 and 1945, the major period of Hope's development. The most architecturally significant buildings in the district are the Brundidge Building, an 1893 Romanesque Revival structure, and the Renaissance Revival former post office building (built in 1911 and now owned by the Hope School District). These tours are worth two hours of HSW continuing education credit through the American Institute of Architects. The tour is being co-sponsored by the Hope-Hempstead County Chamber of Commerce. For more information, contact Revis Edmonds at 501-324-9788 or email at [email protected]
Arkansas Tech University/June 10, 2017
Please join us for this walking tour that begins at Caraway Residence Hall beginning at 11 AM. Built in 1934, The building of Caraway Hall heralded one of the most ambitious periods of construction on the campus. As was the case with many public sites and institutions around the state, the labor force was largely
contributed by the Emergency ReIief Administration (ERA), the federal agency established by
President Franklin D. Roosevelt to hire the nation's unemployed for the purpose of carrying out a broad variety of projects in the public interest. Currently, Caraway Hall serves as sorority housing for all four of the sororities on the Tech Campus. These tours are worth two hours of HSW continuing education credit through the American Institute of Architects. The tour is being co-sponsored by Arkansas Tech University and the Pope County Historical Association. For more information, contact Revis Edmonds at 501-324-9788 or email at [email protected]
Downtown Searcy/July 15, 2017
Please join us for this walking tour that begins at the White County Courthouse beginning at 11 AM. The White County Courthouse, built in 1871 is said to be the oldest functional courthouse in Arkansas and has an elaborate clock tower that resembles the Liberty Bell and dates back to 1855. A statue located on the southeast corner of the court square honors the Confederate Soldiers. A new statue built of six tons of granite, was recently constructed on the courthouse lawn honoring those soldiers of White County who died in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, with each soldier’s name inscribed on the monument. A Vietnam War memorial already sits on the courthouse grounds. A fire in the courthouse some years ago necessitated extensive repair, and the courtroom was restored to its original 19th century look with hardwood flooring and oak benches. The entire courthouse is outlined in lights and comes alive in December each year when the Christmas ”Festival of Lights” is observed. These tours are worth two hours of HSW continuing education credit through the American Institute of Architects. The tour is being co-sponsored by the White County Historical and Main Street Searcy. For more information, contact Revis Edmonds at 501-324-9788 or email at [email protected]
Siloam Springs Downtown Historic District/August 12, 2017
Please join us for this walking tour that begins at Lakeside Hotel beginning at 11 AM. The district is roughly bounded by University Street, Broadway, and Sager Creek, with a few buildings on adjacent streets outside this triangular area. This business district was developed mainly between about 1896, when the railroad arrived, and 1940, and contains a significant number of buildings dating to that period. It also includes Siloam Springs City Park, the location of the springs that gave the city its name. Notable buildings include the First National Bank building, a c. 1890 Romanesque Revival building, and the 1881 Lakeside Hotel, which is one of the city's oldest commercial buildings. The downtown area is filled with retail and antique shops, restaurants, apartment living, a museum and public art. The tour is being co-sponsored by tMain Street Siloam Springs. For more information, contact Revis Edmonds at 501-324-9788 or email at [email protected]
Mountain Home Commercial Historic District/September 9, 2017
Please join us for this walking tour that begins at the Baxter County Courthouse beginning at 11 AM. The district is centered on the Baxter County Courthouse, and is bounded on the north by East 5th Street, the south by East 9th Street, the east by South Street, and the west by South Hickory Street. Most of the buildings in this area are commercial structures, one or two stories in height, of masonry construction. They are generally vernacular in style, and most were built in one of two periods: between about 1900 and 1920, after the arrival of the railroad, and in the 1950s, when the city experienced another major period of growth. The oldest building is the 1892 Baker Building at 601-603 Baker Street. The first permanent settler in the area came around 1810. A post office was established in 1857 and the Male and Female Academy opened in 1853. It was burned during the Civil War along with most of the houses and businesses in town. Mountain Home and the Male and Female Academy were rebuilt after the war with the addition of several new businesses. Mountain Home was incorporated in 1888. With its central location and strong educational background, Mountain Home became the county seat of Baxter County when it formed in 1873. The establishment of a college in 1893 further solidified the town as an educational center.The tour is being co-sponsored by the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society. For more information, contact Revis Edmonds at 501-324-9788 or email at [email protected]
Camp Chaffee Historic District/October 14. 2017
Please join us for this walking tour that begins at the Mess Hall on Terry Street beginning at 11 AM. The area now known as the Camp Chaffee Historic District was originally part of Fort Chaffee Army Base in Fort Smith and Barling. Established in 1941, Fort Chaffee has served as an army training camp, a prisoner of war camp, and a refugee camp over the years. In 1995, the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) included Fort Chaffee Army Base. The closure of the base resulted in the majority of the land being leased to the Arkansas National Guard, and 7,000 acres being given back to the community. Two museums here give a glimpse into the history. The Vietnam Veterans Museum highlights those who served and the Chaffee Barbershop Museum is where Elvis Presley got his famous G.I. haircut in 1958. The restored World War II army barbershop where thousands of U.S. soldiers received their signature G.I. buzz cuts just like the day Elvis Presley did when reporting for duty is stocked with period memorabilia and photographs that document the “hair cut heard ‘round the world.”
Fort Chaffee has a rich military history, but it also has a bit of Hollywood history. In 1984, the movie A Soldier’s Story, starring Howard E. Rollins Jr. was shot at Fort Chaffee. Four years later, the Neil Simon movie Biloxi Blues, starring Matthew Broderick, was filmed there. The most recent visit from Hollywood was in 1995 for The Tuskegee Airmen with Laurence Fishburne and Cuba Gooding Jr.
The tour is being co-sponsored by the Chaffee Crossing Historic District. For more information, contact Revis Edmonds at 501-324-9788 or email at [email protected]
Dumas Downtown Historic District/November 11, 2017
Please join us for this walking tour that begins at the Merchant and Farmers Bank Building beginning at 11 AM. The Dumas Commercial Historic District encompasses the historic commercial heart of this rural community in the Mississippi River delta region of southeastern Arkansas. The town of Dumas was established in 1904, after the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway was built through the farm of William Dumas. The town's oldest surviving commercial building, the Porter Grocery, was one of several built by David Porter between 1905 and 1938. The historic district includes eight noteworthy buildings, including the Merchants & Farmers Bank building, a Colonial Revival National Register-listed building designed by Charles L. Thompson. All of the buildings occupy a single city block of South Main Street, between Choctaw and Waterman Streets. Most of the buildings of interest were built in the 1920s, and are vernacular brick commercial buildings.
The Dumas Chamber of Commerce is located in the Merchants and Farmers Bank Building, which is also home to Main Street Dumas and the offices of the Delta Area Community Foundation. District straddles the railroad tracks that were the catalyst for growth and progress in this rural, agricultural town. The Saint Louis Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad placed its tracks through Southeast Arkansas in 1870. The railroad not only brought people to Dumas to work the large plantations, but also provided a way for growers to get their cotton and other crops to market. The railroad crossed the 940 acre farm of William B. Dumas. When the railroad came through his plantation, William Dumas, seeing an opportunity, surveyed the area, and the town of Dumas began to take shape. The City of Dumas was incorporated in 1904. Gus Waterman, a young Jewish immigrant from Germany, was Dumas's first mayor, and his youngest child, Julian, was the first Dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law. Waterman Hall on the Fayetteville campus is named in his honor.
The tour is being co-sponsored by Main Street Dumas. For more information, contact Revis Edmonds at 501-324-9788 or email at [email protected]
El Dorado Historic Downtown/December 09, 2017
Please join us for this walking tour that begins at the Union County Courthouse beginning at 11 AM. El Dorado Historic Downtown takes in the historic commercial heart of downtown El Dorado. The business district that grew during the oil boom of the 1920s is anchored by the Union County Courthouse, at the corner of Main and Washington Streets, where the Confederate memorial is also located. The historic district includes the city blocks surrounding the courthouse, as well as several blocks extending east along Main Street and south along Washington Street. Other notable structures include the Exchange Bank building, which was, at nine stories, the county's first skyscraper, and the eight-story Murphy Oil building.
From a thriving oil boom town in the 1920s to a fading ghost town in the Great Depression, El Dorado endured the boom-to-bust story of many other communities during the early to mid-20th century. In 2002, El Dorado capitalized on its oil boom heritage by gathering 40 local artists to paint and sculpt 55 oil drums donated by local Murphy Oil Company. The project raised funds for both the artists and the sponsoring arts organizations, while the colorful, often humorous "art drums" gave visitors something fun to look for around town. El Dorado's festivals and special gatherings have earned it a reputation as the entertainment capital of South Arkansas. "Showdown at Sunset" draws thousands downtown to celebrate El Dorado's raucous oil-boom history. An award-winning event, Showdown is a historical reenactment of a 1902 duel between two brothers, who fought it out on the county courthouse steps. Other events include the Mayhew Festival; the Bugs, Bands, and Bikes Crawfish Boil; and the Holiday Trail of Lights have branded the downtown as the center of entertainment and the heart of the community.
The tour is being co-sponsored by Main Street El Dorado. For more information, contact Revis Edmonds at 501-324-9788 or email at [email protected]