Arkansas History

Kezia Nanda

Families of firefighters who died in the line of duty gathered Saturday for the dedication of the Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Memorial. 

The ceremony included the marching of colors by bagpipers, drums and honor guard, the unveiling of the statue, reading of the 1958 A. W. "Smokey" Linn's Firefighter’s Prayer, the ringing of bells for each fallen firefighter and the laying of a rose on top of memorial wall for each name.  

Governor Mike Beebe was on hand and thanked the families of fallen firefighters.

Fallen Firefighters Memorial
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

After 28 years of work and fundraising to make it a reality, the Arkansas Fallen Firefighters Memorial will be dedicated this Saturday at the state Capitol.  It pays tribute to the 104 firefighters who gave their lives in the line of duty.

Their names are engraved at the 50-by-70 foot circular memorial, which features a bronze statue in the center with four firefighters, each representing the different kinds of work fire crews do.  Two are holding fire hoses, another equipment, while the fourth is treating a wounded child.  Flowing underneath the statue is a fountain.

Majestic Hotel
Save Her Majesty: Restore The Majestic Hotel Facebook Page

Hot Springs' fire chief says the fire that destroyed the Majestic Hotel was likely set by trespassers - but that the cause may never be determined because it wasn't safe to send investigators inside the building before it was torn down.

Fire Chief Ed Davis says investigators believe the Feb. 27 fire was likely set by either "urban explorers" or homeless people who were inside the abandoned building on a regular basis.

Davis tells The Sentinel-Record that someone may have set the fire to keep warm, not as an attempt to burn the building down.

Majestic Hotel
Save Her Majesty: Restore The Majestic Hotel Facebook Page

Crews continue to battle a massive fire that consumed an abandoned historic hotel that's been a Hot Springs landmark for more than 130 years.

The blaze broke out Thursday evening at the Majestic Hotel near Bathhouse Row downtown.

The hotel, which was built in 1882, had fallen into disrepair after its closure in 2006.

Authorities say the fire apparently started in the center section of the fifth floor of the original hotel building, then spread to the north and south ends of the building and lower floors.

Little Rock Nine 9
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Three of the nine students who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957 are speaking in the area this week.

Two will be at Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City Monday.  The university says Carlotta Walls LaNier and Terrence Roberts are scheduled to speak during an event titled "History Speaks: Little Rock Nine" on Monday.  The free event is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the university's Hardeman Auditorium.

The historic Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs is now boarded up.

The hotel complex closed in 2006 after operating for 124 years. City officials say the structure isn't habitable in its current condition and needed to be secured to keep people out.

The Majestic had been owned by the same company that owns the nearby Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa but was sold to Arc Arkansas, which planned to convert the property to apartments, with ground-floor retail. That plan never got off the ground.

Mark Friedman / Arkansas Business

It’s not immediately clear why, but federal agents Tuesday executed search warrants at a North Little Rock company that has become well known for licensing and digitizing the photo collections of notable newspapers around the country. They were also at the expansive home of John Rogers, owner of Rogers Photo Archive.

Reporters were kept across from the locations, as boxes were removed and loaded into vehicles.

75 kids from around Central Arkansas are volunteering their time in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center hosts an annual “MLK Challenge”, teaching kids about the legacy of Dr. King’s service, as well as the work of many others.

The children, ages 12 to 18, volunteer with eight different sites around Little Rock, including the Dream Center and the Rice Depot.

Rosanne Cash Johnny Cash
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

As final work is being completed to open Johnny Cash’s boyhood home in Dyess, Arkansas as a museum, his daughter Rosanne Cash came to Little Rock over the weekend for a sold out show and to be honored for her work in helping to restore the small house.

National Historic Sites Reopen Across Arkansas

Oct 17, 2013

Hundreds of federal employees who work at agencies across Arkansas returned to their jobs Thursday, after being furloughed.

Some workers, particularly those who oversee National Park Service sites in the state, had been off the job for 16 days due to the partial government shutdown.

They’re finally getting around to honoring the designer of the Arkansas flag, 100 years after it was created.

Willie K. Hocker of Wabbaseka created what we now use as the Arkansas state flag and unveiled it at the Arkansas State Fair in Hot Springs in 1913.

The design is the familiar diamond-shaped blue band on a red background with 25 white stars signifying Arkansas as the 25th state.

Southwest Trail
Michael Hibblen / KUAR

County administrators of Pulaski, Saline and Garland Counties are proposing construction of a bicycle and pedestrian trail linking Little Rock and Hot Springs.

They were joined Thursday by several of the mayors of cities and towns that the trail would pass through, making an enthusiastic pitch for the project for reporters and cycling advocates.

“When this is completed, we will have something that is second to none in this country,” said Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines. 

100 Year Anniversary of Hot Springs Fire

Sep 3, 2013
Visit Hot Springs

Hot Springs is commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the largest urban fire in the state’s history, Wednesday afternoon. Visit Hot Springs, the city's tourism agency, invites the public to the site of the fire, a parking lot behind Summit Arena, at 3:30 PM for a plaque placement followed by a history presentation.

The fire started on September 5th and within 12 hours destroyed 60 city blocks and 700 residences.  Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, says the town is the number one tourism destination in the state because of the hard work that was done to repair it.

Plan Would Bring New Use To Old Fort Smith Bridge

Aug 12, 2013

A bridge completed during World War II has been rediscovered in Fort Smith and parks officials plan to incorporate the structure into a nature trail.

The trail around Torraine Lake, also known as Stick Lake is at Ben Geren Regional Park.

Officials say the bridge was completed in 1941. The bridge area has been cleared of decades' worth of buildup of trees and brush.

The Southwest Times Record reports the bridge is on landfill property owned by Fort Smith.

Mosaic Templar Cultural center

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is celebrating the opening of the new art exhibit, “Shades of Greatness”, this Friday evening from 5:30 to 7:30.

The traveling exhibit has over 30 original pieces of art inspired by the history of the Negro League. Both national and regional artists will be featured. Quantia Fletcher, the Assistant Director of the center says this exhibit is special to Arkansas.

Jacksonville Library Exhibiting Ancient Artifacts

Aug 1, 2013

An exhibit featuring prehistoric Native American artifacts unearthed near Jacksonville are on display at the Esther Dewitt Nixon Library in Jacksonville.

The Central Arkansas Library System says the artifacts were dug over a 30-year-period by Jacksonville resident Mike Wilson on land he owns along Bayou Meto.

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Wilson's finds include stone dart and arrow points, a variety of stone implements and drills, and hammering and grinding tools made from stream cobbles.

The Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission says nearly half of Arkansas' counties have yet to apply for a marker to note the county's history in the US Civil War.

The commission hopes to place a marker in all 75 of the state's counties to tell of a Civil War event in that county. But officials say 34 counties have neither a marker in place nor an application asking for approval of one.

Garland County To Digitize Historical Photographs

Jul 11, 2013

The Garland County Historical Society has lined up grant money so it can create digital copies of photographs that tell the story of Hot Springs and the county.

The Oaklawn Foundation is giving $10,000, which is on top of $27,500 pledged in January by Umetco Minerals Corp. to create the digital archive.

A storm last August gave the project greater urgency after a tree crashed into the historical society's building on Quapaw Avenue.

Magnolia Properties Get Historic Designations

Jun 14, 2013

Two structures in Magnolia have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The Banner-News reports that the president's house at Southern Arkansas University and the Rushton Clinic in Magnolia were named to the list after consideration earlier this year by the state review board of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

Historic Hotel In Downtown Little Rock Upgrading

May 23, 2013

The historic Albert Pike Hotel in downtown Little Rock is about to get a bath.

Owners of the building said Wednesday that a $6 million renovation is planned for the structure that was built in 1929.

Included is a cleaning of the exterior of the building, which will give it a brighter appearance.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that BSR Trust LLC, which owns the hotel, will sustain the building's appearance because of its historic status.

Majestic Hotel In Hot Springs Up For Sale

May 23, 2013

The former Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs is up for sale. The hotel closed in 2006 after serving customers for more than a century and through the bathhouse heyday.

The Sentinel-Record reports that the hotel includes more than five acres at the intersection of Park and Central Avenues. The hotel underwent a number of expansions and renovations.

The original hotel was built in 1882 on the north end of the complex, where spa and bathhouse are now. Other sections were added from the 1920s into the 1960s.

Hope Rising In Helena-West Helena, Arkansas: Part Three

May 20, 2013
Malcolm Glover / KUAR

Communities throughout the Arkansas Delta often battle against a rising tide of economic woes. As factories close and labor-intensive jobs leave small towns, populations dwindle in many rural cities.

For decades, outside investments from banks and charitable organizations helped stimulate marginal growth, but most of the heavy lifting necessary to revitalize communities must be done by the people who live there.

In downtown Helena, a building that was once a post office is now a hub for various programs that provide important services to women and families.

Hope Rising In Helena-West Helena, Arkansas: Part Two

May 13, 2013
Malcolm Glover / KUAR

Helena-West Helena is part of Phillips County in the Arkansas Delta. According to U.S. Census data, the county’s population decreased over 17 percent in the last ten years, which means by some estimates the population is less than half of what it was in the 1950s. However, new community-led efforts in Helena-West Helena seek to make the area’s history and culture a catalyst for investment and growth.

Malcolm Glover / KUAR

Over the next few weeks, colleges and universities across Arkansas will host Commencement ceremonies to celebrate the academic achievements of graduates. This Saturday, one private two-year college in North Little Rock will have its first official graduate in nearly 15 years.

Wilhelm Cedric Hawkins has a long history with Shorter College.

“My grandmother went to school here, my mother went to school here, and also my father so I figure that I could follow the family tradition,” said Hawkins, as he walks through halls of the main building on campus.

Malcolm Glover / KUAR

The City of Helena-West Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas is no stranger to the hardships that have plagued many communities across the country during the economic downturn.

High unemployment, a struggling education system, political upheaval, a crumbling infrastructure, and even unresolved racial inequalities were once the hallmarks of this unified city in the impoverished Arkansas Delta. However, new research findings show some positive demographic trends and community development projects have some residents saying Helen-West Helena is finally making a comeback.

Rogers Photo Archive

With this year marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 120 rare photos of the president will be on display next month in central Arkansas.

"The JFK 50 Years Later" exhibit will highlight rare and never before seen photos of John F. Kennedy and his family," said John Gaudin, chairman of the Board of Directors for the Argenta Arts Foundation.

The exhibit will be held at various arts locations and will be free to the public.

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