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. The Walks Through History tours are co-sponsored by the Arkansas Humanities Council.

Walks Through History Schedule 

  • October 14: Camp Chaffee Historic District
  • November 11: Dumas Downtown Historic District
  • December 9: El Dorado Historic Downtown

View Archived Walks Through History Tour Scripts


Dumas Downtown Historic District/November 11, 2017

Details

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.

Directions/Map


El Dorado Historic Downtown/December 09, 2017

Details

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.

Directions/Map