Welcome to the winter 2010 edition of the Chronicle. We're testing a slightly different format, so please let us know what you think.
This edition includes articles about the upcoming Potpourri (tickets are still available at www.quapaw.com
!), a letter from Dana, a recap of our awards presentation, our end of year report, Spring Tour News, Restoration Tales at 2020 S. Arch, our new board members, a community branding project, the importance of regulations, and, of course, some tips from the Old House Doctor.
Happy Holidays, we hope to see you all at Potpourri next Tuesday, the 14th!
Potpourri 2010: Great People, Food, Music, Auction Items, in a Great Space!
By Dana Nixon
Potpourri will be 6-9 p.m., Tuesday, December 14th at the Arkansas Studies Institute, 401 President Clinton Avenue. Dinner will be Shrimp Creole with Arkansas rice, green mixed salad, Community Bakery bread, and New Orleans-style bread pudding with whiskey sauce. Music will again be by Dr. Rob Barrow and friends! The silent auction will offer interesting items and services to purchase as holiday gifts. Join us to party in the magnificent spaces of ASI, including Concordia Hall and the other art galleries, and to honor past presidents of the QQA board in addition to celebrating the preservation of the QQA and raise funds for future work.
Concordia Hall is a portion of the Porbeck and Bowman building constructed in 1882 by Max Hib, who provided meeting space for the Concordia Association, the Jewish social organization of central Arkansas Jews. The floor of the main hall is constructed of hardwoods from the highlands of north Arkansas to the southern lowlands, including many not often used for flooring.
Concordia Hall Gallery currently contains an installation of photographs and texts based on Maxine Payne's limited-edition book, "Making Pictures: Three for a Dime" and documenting the entrepreneurial spirit of the Massengills - an Almond, Arkansas, itinerant family who traveled the state between 1937 and 1941 in a homemade trailer taking pictures with a homemade camera. The ASI Mezzanine Gallery is currently exhibiting the Arkansas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects' 2010 Design Awards for affordable new housing designs for neighborhoods in downtown Little Rock, as selected by a jury of leading New Orleans architects. Retail galleries features works of Arkansas artists and art related to the state, and include paintings, ceramics, jewelry, glass, wood, fiber, pastels and mixed media.
Auction items to date include lots of wonderful art: a signed and framed Blue Dog poster print, lithographs, paintings, etchings, George Wittenberg's post-card art, and works by Richard DeSpain and John Kushmal (both of whom will be on site working). There will also be many jewelry choices, parties, restaurant gift certificates, wines, spa services, even furniture - obviously something for everyone!
Off-street parking will be available in the parking lot behind the buildings and in the River Market parking deck but entry will be through Concordia Hall on President Clinton Avenue.
$35 tickets are still available at www.quapaw.com, or contact Rhea at firstname.lastname@example.org or 501.371.0075 for more information.
|President's Letter |
By Dana Nixon
This will be my last month as president, and it has been an exhilarating and rewarding two years. We have reinstated the Chronicle (albeit as an e-publication only), Potpourri, the Easter Egg hunt, the Candlelight Tour and Saturday party, rebuilt and filled the board, and hired a new executive director. I am so thankful for all the hard work that others have done, and all of the help I have received in trying to get these changes made. But we have so much more work to do to continue to make the QQA into the organization that we know it can be - a nationally recognized and applauded vibrant and energizing group advocating for preservation and recognition of Little Rock's architectural heritage. We need to expand our individual and corporate membership base and make Holiday Potpourri, the Spring Tour, and other smaller fundraisers successful, educational and fun events. We need to hire an assistant to help Rhea manage Curran Hall and meet the QQA's administrative needs, giving her more time to promote the mission through advocacy, education and marketing. To that end, we need more workshops and publications. And, we must rebuild our standing committees and develop a new and wider base of volunteers to help in our activities.
A list of committee needs for the Tour is listed elsewhere in this issue. Please read that and sign up for something! (I'm Tour chair, so I'm not going away just yet!) Also, read Cheri Nichols' article on community branding and the potentially new project requiring QQA leadership. And, of course, read the articles on Potpourri, the annual meeting, house projects, and new folks in the neighborhood.
And a heartfelt thanks to the board for giving me the Tom Wilkes award at the annual meeting. I was not expecting it, and I treasure it and the recognition that it signifies.
Greater Little Rock Preservation Awards
|Award of Merit recipient Jennifer Carman's house on South Summit|
Read the full press release here
View pictures here
On Thursday, November 18, the Quapaw Quarter Association presented the 2010 Greater Little Rock Preservation Awards at its annual membership meeting. The meeting was held at Curran Hall, 615 East Capitol Avenue in Little Rock, approximately 70 people attended. Daniel Carey, President and CEO of Historic Savannah Foundation was the guest speaker.
Since 1982, the Quapaw Quarter Association has presented more than eighty (80) Awards of Merit to recognize a very wide array of preservation accomplishments throughout Greater Little Rock's historic neighborhoods. Individuals, businesses, and organizations have been honored for rehabilitating buildings and otherwise furthering the cause of preservation in the Quapaw Quarter, Hillcrest and Argenta.
This year, six Awards of Merit were given to recognize people and projects from around Little Rock and North Little Rock. This year's award recipients are the eStem Public Charter Schools, Jennifer Carman, New Argenta Fund LLC, Lakresha Diaz and the Board of Directors of Oakland-Fraternal Cemeteries, Anita Davis, and David and Mary Ann Rawls.
Tom Wilkes Award
In 2000, the Quapaw Quarter Association Board of Directors created an award to honor outstanding board service. It's called the Tom Wilkes Award, in memory of the Quapaw Quarter realtor and developer who for some 30 years was active in the QQA. Tom served on the QQA board in the 1970s and again in the 1980s and 1990s. He was president of the board in 1991.
The award is not presented annually. Rather, it is given only when the QQA board believes one of its members deserves special recognition. Since 2000, the award has been given just three times.
Dana Nixon has been a member of the QQA board since 2004, and for the past two years she has served as president. During her tenure, she has been instrumental in reviving both the Spring Tour and the Holiday Potpourri. This year's Spring Tour was the most successful in 10 or so years.
Dana also has worked diligently on bringing back the Quapaw Quarter Chronicle - which was defunct for several years - and doing so in a 21st century electronic format.
But perhaps Dana's most lasting legacy will be the article about the history of the Quapaw Quarter Association that she wrote last year for the Pulaski County Historical Review. Businesses and organizations pay good money to have their histories written; Dana did it for free and did it well. And now the QQA will forever have a comprehensive history of how the organization began and of its accomplishments from 1968, when it was incorporated, to 2009.
Peg Smith Award
The Peg Smith Award has been given annually since 1980 to recognize "a Quapaw Quarter Association member whose volunteer work on QQA projects and programs has been particularly exemplary." It is named for its first recipient, Peg Newton Smith, who truly was an exemplary volunteer, not just for the Quapaw Quarter Association but also for many other organizations whose focus was Little Rock's or Arkansas's heritage. She was one of the incorporators of the Quapaw Quarter Association in 1968, she served on the QQA board for several years, and she remained an active supporter until her death in 2003.
Much like Mrs. Smith, this year's recipient of the Peg Smith Award - Amber Jones - has done just about every volunteer job there is to do for the QQA, beginning in 2001, when she chaired the Holiday Potpourri at the Villa Marre. She has worked on every Spring Tour since 2001; she served on the QQA board for seven years; and last spring, she revived the QQA Easter Egg Hunt. And, although this award is for volunteer work on QQA projects and programs, it's appropriate to note that she also has served on the board of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, is a member of Capitol Zoning's Mansion Area Advisory Committee, and is active in both the Quapaw Home and Garden Club and the MORE Group - all organizations that work on behalf of historic neighborhoods in downtown Little Rock. Last but not least, Amber and her husband, Scott, have rehabilitated two houses in the Governor's Mansion neighborhood: their first home on State Street and their current residence on Arch.
Jimmy Strawn Award
Like the Peg Smith Award, the Jimmy Strawn Award has been presented annually since 1980. It is considered the QQA's most prestigious award because it's given to "someone whose efforts on behalf of the preservation of Greater Little Rock's architectural heritage are an inspiration to the entire community." The list of recipients is a veritable "Who's Who" of preservation in Greater Little Rock.
The award is named for James W. Strawn, Jr. - better known as Jimmy - who in the mid-1960s saved the Villa Marre, which was considered the second "official" Quapaw Quarter restoration project when it was completed in 1966. He also was one of the incorporators of the Quapaw Quarter Association in 1968 and served on the QQA board into the early 1970s. In other words, he was a true preservation pioneer in Little Rock. He probably is most widely-remembered, however, for donating the Villa Marre to the Quapaw Quarter Association in 1980, a hugely generous gift which even today is helping to support the QQA's work through a fund that was established when the house was sold in 2002.
This year, for the first time, the Jimmy Strawn Award is being presented posthumously. The recipient, Randy Jeffery, passed away unexpectedly in March, which was a very sad surprise for his friends and colleagues in the preservation field. At the time of his death, Randy was director of the Capitol Zoning District Commission, a position that was the culmination of a long career in preservation.
But Randy didn't just work in preservation, he lived preservation. His personal preservation projects included a bungalow in the Capitol View neighborhood; an unusual turn-of-the 20th century concrete-block house in the Hanger Hill neighborhood; and, finally, a Queen Anne-style house on Broadway that he and his partner, Scott Shepard, were rehabilitating at the time of Randy's death.
End of Year Report
By Rhea Roberts
It was a busy year for the QQA and we're already excited about what's coming in 2011! Here's a recap of 2010:
In April, the QQA sponsored a workshop on infill design led by Phil Thomason of Thomason and Associates, who also worked on the Little Rock Citywide Preservation Plan. The citywide preservation plan has been adopted and we are meeting with the city and other organizations to help guide the implementation.
On Mother's Day weekend in May, the Quapaw Quarter Association welcomed over 150 guests to the Candlelight Tour Gala and over 500 visitors to the Sunday Afternoon Tour! The Saturday evening festivities included visits to the five houses, all within walking distance, cocktails in the Garth of Trinity Cathedral, and dinner and dancing in Trinity's Morrison Hall. This, of course, was the first Candlelight Tour in several years, and everyone seemed delighted to have it return. All of the food and much of the wine and champagne were donated by local businesses and prepared by former QQA president and continuing supporter Mark Abernathy's Loca Luna Restaurant. Tom Fennell (another former board president) and his band, the Jellies, played music.
The Sunday Tour brought over 500 people downtown to tour the homes. We had folks in period costumes walking the streets, carriage rides along the tour route and floral demonstrations by Michael Walls, a well-known California designer born and bred in Little Rock.
Thanks to our generous sponsors, the great houses shown by their owners, and donations and ticket sales, we netted almost $19,000! Next year's tour will be May 7-8 and we are already working to make it even bigger and better.
I started as Executive Director in August and we held a reception to say goodbye to Roger Williams who worked tirelessly as Executive Director for the past 10 years. We are grateful for Roger's stewardship of the organization. Among his accomplishments was the negotiation of the contract with the city to manage Curran Hall.
For those of you who don't know, our office is here at Curran Hall, upstairs in the kitchen building. We manage the Little Rock Visitor Information Center. We are delighted to have an office in such a great setting and are glad to help keep this important building in active use.
None of this would have been possible without the Little Rock Visitors Foundation. They are responsible for the restoration of Curran Hall and still work to care for it. This fall they guided a water remediation project here to hopefully permanently solve the rising damp problem we've had in some of our walls. They are also responsible for the furnishings in here and continue to improve the space, we appreciate all that they do.
I'd also like to thank our staff here that works the Visitor Information Desk, they know just about everything about Little Rock and have been a big help to me during my transition. You should bring your out of town visitors by, you won't be sorry.
In September, we sponsored the first of the Art of Architecture lectures at the Arkansas Arts Center. Dean Jeff Shannon of the University of Arkansas's Fay Jones School of Architecture discussed the school's design/build program and its implementation in Little Rock in partnership with the Downtown Little Rock CDC.
Earlier this year, a team of 15 students were challenged with building an affordable, sustainable home accommodating the needs of the couple who were to live there. Students designed and built a 1,200-square-foot modular home on a vacant lot at 16th and Commerce streets. Students constructed the modular components in a Fayetteville warehouse under the leadership of associate professor Michael Hughes. The first of its kind in the region, the home is intended to serve as a model for others in the community.
Also in September, Curran Hall hosted a Community Branding presentation by Ben Muldrow of Arnett/Muldrow and Associates. QQA is working with the Heart of the City Coalition to develop a community brand for downtown neighborhoods.
This fall we started participating in the Arkansas Coalition for Excellence Nonprofit capacity building program. Over the next year we will be meeting with other nonprofit groups around central Arkansas for trainings to help us develop as a nonprofit.
In the last week of October I joined other preservationists from across the country in Austin for the National Preservation Conference. I had the opportunity to meet with staff and volunteers from other organizations in the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Statewide and Local Partners Program, and we are a Local Partner. I learned about what is going on around the country and we have some great ideas for new things here in Little Rock.
In 2010 we added a total of twelve new board members, with 5 joining us in the past two months. Our board now includes a nice mix of preservation veterans and newcomers to the effort. We are excited to have a full board of 18 members as we start 2011.
Our membership is now holding steady at around 200 but our numbers have declined significantly over the years; we're sending out a letter to downtown residents soon asking everyone join. We're trying to get the word out about our accomplishments in the past and about our plans for the future. We're also adding new benefits, from now on, when you join or renew online you'll receive a complimentary one year membership to the National Trust for Historic Preservation!
We are also about to launch a corporate membership campaign, if you are interested in becoming a member you can contact me.
In February we'll be co hosting a legislative reception with the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas here at Curran Hall. We'll be highlighting the success of the Arkansas Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, passed in 2009.
In May, we'll be partnering with the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas again for the Arkansas Preservation Conference. Preservationists from across the state will be here in Little Rock May 5-7, and we're hoping they'll stay an extra day and enjoy our Spring Tour.
Spring Tour News
By Dana Nixon
|Garth at Trinity Cathedral |
2011 Spring Tour will be Mother's Day weekend, May 7 and 8th. The Tour will again be based in the Governor's Mansion District and will have the Saturday tour from 5-7 p.m. and the dinner and party at Trinity Cathedral. Sunday's tour will be 1-5 p.m. To date, homeowners Nick and Mary Paal, Mike and Kelly Ward, and Jay Barth and Chuck Cliett have agreed to participate at the Ragland House, 1617 South Center, designed by Charles L. Thompson and constructed in 1891-2; the Urquhart Cottage, 1623 South Center, constructed in the early 1880s; and, the Turner-Mann House,1711 South Center, built c. 1905. We are currently working with several other homeowners to arrange for at least two more homes within the walking area, and with Governor's Mansion staff to open the gardens for Sunday only. The 2012 Tour will, we hope, move to the east side of Main Street.
We are partnering with the statewide preservation group, the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas, for the Tour and a silent and live auction at the Saturday party. (Auction proceeds will benefit both organizations.) Already, we have special effects for the Candlelight Tour, with the donation of Bylites of its "garden party moon", a five-foot lighted translucent sphere that floats 30 feet above the outdoor space and casts a soft glow on the outside party area! (This will also be a donated auction item.) HPAA will be celebrating 30 years of working for architectural and cultural preservation around Arkansas and will have the annual conference in Little Rock May 5-7th. We need volunteers for the following committees: house, publicity, street activities, food and drink, decorations, auction, Saturday set-up and break-down, dinner and champagne stations, food donations and cash and in-kind sponsorships (and maybe more). Please sign up at Potpourri or contact Dana Nixon: 831-7369 or email@example.com. We need to start in earnest in January to make the 2011 Spring Tour even more successful than the 2010. Please help!
The Boyle House, 2020 S. Arch Street
By Jim King
|The Boyle House, photo by Jim King|
When Cassie Toro decided to return from North Carolina to her Arkansas roots earlier this year, she bypassed her native Jonesboro for Little Rock.
"Little Rock is more cosmopolitan, and has such a great central location in the state," she said. "And I love the architecture of the Quarter."
She settled on The Boyle House at the corner of Arch and 21st, a stately Craftsman with elements of English Tudor Revival in its stucco-and-timber-framed exterior. Built in 1921 for William P. Scott, it was designed by Charles Thompson and William Harding Architects, but in less than six months, Scott sold it unfinished to John Boyle, thus the name. The "chapel room" above the porte cochere, was added in 1929, reportedly as a venue for John Boyle's daughter's wedding.
Cassie didn't immediately make a bee-line for Arch Street, though. She looked in Hillcrest, The Heights, and most of the areas north and west before deciding on Downtown.
"The Heights and Hillcrest and Capitol View are nice, but I wanted more of a neighborhood feel. And west of that is too much like suburbia."
This writer agrees with her wholeheartedly. And this writer should know; he's lived downtown for over twenty years.
This Writer is The Old House Doctor, minus the curmudgeonly attitude. And truth be told (and it should), This Writer is the Project Manager for the renovation of 2020 Arch, most of which is being done by C/M Restoration.
I say 'renovation' as opposed to 'restoration' because there wasn't really a need to restore the house.
Bought by Tom and MaryAnn McGowan in 1988, the Boyle House was remarkably intact. The original floors, doors, windows, wood trim and tile floors were unaltered, proving that the house did not suffer the fate of becoming one of the ubiquitous boarding houses that befell many of the homes in the quarter in the fifties and sixties.
The grounds and exterior of the house are also historically pristine, with the iron fences (some of the most elaborate in the quarter), carriage house, and even the large dogtrot at the rear of the property in good shape.
The 'carriage house' is actually a large garage with an upstairs apartment, and though it needs more work than anything else on the property, it is likewise historically intact.
And when I say 'dogtrot,' I do not refer to the design of the house. It's a brick-walled dog enclosure measuring fifteen feet wide and running the width of the property.
When this writer first saw it in 1988, the dog run was empty of anything but weeds, but now, it supports a great volunteer forest of red-leaf photinas.
Time does go by.
"There's no doubt that it has some of the best curb appeal in the quarter," Cassie said as we dined at Lulav.
Hey, take me to dinner, and I'll write an article about you. It's up to you if I tell everyone if you're nice or not.
And Cassie is one of the nicest people to ever move into the quarter.
She also has a fine sense of what to do (and especially what not to do) to an old house. Seeing that this one needed some updating but no major changes, she has treated it with a great deal of historical respect.
Cassie is also grateful with what the McGowans had both done and not done to the house.
Tom and MaryAnn rewired the entire house, bypassing all the ungrounded knob-and-tube wiring and installing grounded Romex throughout (The Old House Doctor raises his curmudgeonly head again, arrrrggh!). That's a major expense. They also replaced or overlaid all the plaster ceilings with drywall, something many newbie old-house-owners discover is a prerequisite. Or they go broke doing it themselves.
The red gum trim in the dining and living room is in perfect condition, as are the rift-and-quarter sawn white oak floors.
But certain things needed to be replaced.
Each of the four bathrooms still had original Winburn tile, with glazed subway on the walls and inch-wide unglazed hexagonal on the floors.
But, as anyone that has revamped old bathrooms can attest, the tile had seen better days.
Cracks crazed the floors as well as the walls, and a galaxy of small holes peppered the subway. Thus the gutting of the bathrooms.
Add to this the nearly three hundred square foot kitchen with a like sized tile floor, and much demolition had to be done to the tile. Understand that a four-inch concrete bed supported the tile, and a number of tons of dead weight were removed from the house.
With the concrete gone, the joists heaved an audible sigh of relief (I was there! I heard it!). The floors were reinforced with new joists, sheathed with plywood, hardibacker was installed, and all the bathrooms and kitchen were then retiled. Modern showers, tubs, and custom vanities were added.
Cassie (remember her? The owner paying for all of this?) went back with redesigned bathrooms sporting new subway tile, a little beadboard wainscot, and more of the same 1x1 hexagonal tile on the floor.
"It looks marvelous," Fernando said from his Hideaway.
It not only looks great, but the types of tile were very similar to what had been there originally, with a few accents here and there.
The showers and bathtubs have been updated, and the physical systems (plumbing, HVAC, lighting) have been replaced or brought to Cassie's standards.
Which, I can tell you as her Project Manager, are both fair and high. We at C/M try to teach and accommodate, but Cassie already knows much of what she wants.
"I learned a lot during the renovation of the Apartments."
She renovated the fourplex at the corner of 19th and Spring Streets, and now, with a full complement of tenants, is learning to deal with their issues.
"I know that everyone is interested in what I'm doing to the house," she told me, describing the curious neighbors that have dropped by. "I think anyone that loves old homes would approve of the changes." She paused. "But really, who wants to live in a museum?"
The only major change to the footprint of the house was removing part of the south kitchen wall into the dining and breakfast room.
"It lets so much more light into the kitchen and opens it up to the rest of the house." It was a good choice.
And with Cassie's outgoing personality, oodles of friends, and culinary expertise, there will be a lot of mixing from the kitchen to the dining and living rooms.
One of the great surprises was the mechanical condition of the windows. Most had been painted shut for many years, and when they were cut open, they both moved well and fit tightly in their channels.
The kitchen floor, which had to be removed with a jackhammer, was reinforced, and the tile replaced with rift and quarter-sawn oak to match the rest of the house. Custom cabinets with interior lighting and glass door panels were installed, along with granite and marble countertops. A small wet bar and a large pantry round out the built-in appliances.
One of Cassie's concerns was for her dogs, which range from a Yorkshire Terrier to a large Doberman.
"My plumber back in North Carolina built a dog poop disposal system," she told me one day at the beginning of the project. "If I told your plumber what I want, could he do the same?"
Under her instruction, we built a little doggie commode in her back yard (possibly the first in Little Rock). Now if we could just teach the male Doberman not to leave the seat up. We also built a dog shower to the rear of the laundry, another Plumbing First for me.
I wanted to know what the best and worst things about renovating the house have been.
"All the people who have worked on it have been superb," she said. "I feel that I'm in good hands."
(This project manager blushes)
"The worst thing is how much money all of this costs," she smiled.
I think both points were for me.
Aside from the removed wall, several doorways were eliminated. These are the only changes other than tile, finishes, and cabinetry. Of course, new lighting, plaster and paint finishes were also installed.
The next phase involves the updating of landscaping, exterior work, and the restoration of the garage. Needless to say, she's not concentrating on those things right now.
"I'm hoping to move in by Christmas," she says, shooting me a sideways look. I assure her we're doing our best to that end.
Cassie plans on having her home on the Garden Club Tour in February.
Get to Know the QQA's Newest Board Members
In 2010, the QQA added twelve new members to the board of directors. Get to know a few.....
Lakresha was born in Arizona and grew up in Canada. After high school she led a nomadic life traveling for years. Some of those adventures included living on a kibbutz in Israel, working as an aupair in Italy and teaching English to street children in Calcutta. These travels inspired a passion for history. She eventually settled in New York City where she met her husband Tommy of 10 years and where their six year old son Tyus was born. Their passion for historic structures grew when they purchased a 3 family brownstone in Brooklyn. They spent years adding historic details back into the home that years of neglect and renovation removed.
Three years ago they moved to Little Rock and purchased the 1872 Reichardt house at 1201 Welch Street and are still in the midst of restoration, though much progress has been made. Lakresha is expected to graduate this spring from UALR with a Bachelor's in Liberal Arts with focuses in History, Non-profit management and Fine Arts. She works at Oakland-Fraternal Cemeteries where she works on historical programming, promotion, fundraising and conservation.
Amanda Sobel Driver
Amanda was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs but moved to North Little Rock via Memphis while in middle school. She received her bachelor's degree in history and anthropology from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and earned a master's degree in cultural production with an emphasis in museum studies and education from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Amanda lived abroad for a year in Japan teaching English in public schools and also worked with preschool children in Northwest Arkansas. She has worked in education departments at the Museum of Fine Arts and the Old North Church in Boston and at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA.
Amanda and her husband Brahm returned to Arkansas in the fall of 2009 and earlier this year bought their first home in the Governor's Mansion Historic District. She worked for a year in education at the Old State House Museum, and this October accepted a position with the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program as the Education Outreach Coordinator. In her current position, Amanda develops and presents programs to K-12th grade students and teachers across the state about important historic and cultural sites in Arkansas.
In October 2010, Jarrod Johnson began serving as a lobbyist and Director of Communications for DBH Management Consultants. In his current position he maintains relationships with all DBH clients, as well as all members of the Arkansas Legislature. He also keeps clients in the know by providing them with information on how DBH is working to with the Legislature to achieve their goals.
Before taking his current position, Johnson worked for 6 ½ years at the Arkansas Secretary of State's Office. There, as Special Projects Coordinator, he was in charge of promoting the services of the office to the business community throughout Arkansas. Fluent in Spanish, Johnson also served as the constitutional office's point person to the Spanish-speaking community in Arkansas.
In January 2010, Johnson was given the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to work at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He was contracted to live and work in Vancouver for 33 days, before, during, and after the Games as a Venue Systems Manager. In that role, he oversaw all transportation of athletes, technical officials, and media to and from the competition ice hockey venues.
A native of Bryant, AR, Johnson attended the University of Arkansas where he studied in Broadcast Journalism and Spanish. Johnson has lived in Little Rock for the past four years.
Born in Little Rock, Little Rock Catholic High, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, United States Air Force, Manager of M.M. Cohn Department Store 10 years before becoming owner operator of Ruebel Funeral Home for past 25 years. Married to Lillian Phillips Wittenberg, 3 children: Jennifer Cockrill, Shelby Cotton, Justin Wittenberg and 2 grandchildren: Witt and Thomas.
Community Branding Project for Downtown Little Rock or the Quapaw Quarter?
By Cheri Nichols
Would a community branding project be beneficial for downtown Little Rock - or possibly for the slightly larger area known as the Quapaw Quarter? That question currently is being discussed by several organizations whose work is focused in the downtown or Quapaw Quarter area.
Community branding is a relatively new concept, but we're all familiar with branding when it comes to products (Coke, Kleenex) and businesses (Starbucks, Nike). A brand, according to one expert, is "a collection of perceptions in the consumer's mind." In other words, it's how someone perceives a product or business - or a community. Another branding expert puts it this way: A brand is "what people say about you [or your community] when you're not around."
For decades, as residents and business-owners in downtown Little Rock know, what people have been saying about downtown when we're not around often has been more negative than positive. Those of us who choose to live and/or work downtown understand and appreciate downtown's many assets, but others may not. Unfortunately, to a large extent, we in downtown Little Rock have been allowing others to brand our community rather than doing it ourselves.
A community branding project for downtown Little Rock could change that, allowing those of us who value downtown to reveal and establish the brand "Downtown Little Rock" as we perceive it. With proper promotion and marketing, a new downtown brand might go a long way toward changing negative (mis)perceptions about downtown. "Develop a brand, promote the brand, and people will catch on" is a mantra in the community branding business.
On September 2, community branding consultant Ben Muldrow visited downtown Little Rock, meeting individually with a few local leaders before making a presentation on community branding to a group of about twenty people at Curran Hall. Ben's firm, Arnett Muldrow & Associates of Greenville, South Carolina, has worked in more than 150 communities across the country, helping residents use "community branding, market data, and thoughtful design to create vibrant and viable communities." Many of the firm's clients are Main Street communities, including several here in Arkansas. The firm also is responsible for the Arkansas Delta: Soil and Soul brand now being used throughout the 15-county Arkansas Delta region.
Ben's visit to Little Rock was initiated by the Heart of the City Coalition, a group of downtown organizations and businesses that has been meeting since February 2009. A downtown branding project would be in keeping with the Coalition's mission to "foster cooperation among individuals, businesses, and organizations promoting a varied, vibrant, and livable downtown Little Rock."
Downtown's attributes - such as those highlighted by the Coalition: "varied, vibrant, and livable" - would be among the many factors that a branding consultant would take into consideration in creating a brand. Actually, branding consultants like to say that brands aren't created, they're "discovered." Through research - including many tours, meetings, and interviews - the consultant must come to thoroughly understand a place in order to articulate a brand that authentically conveys a community's own values, assets, and priorities. Ben Muldrow - not entirely facetiously - refers to this process as "community therapy."
What are the results of the "therapy"? In the case of Arnett Muldrow & Associates, there would be a long list of "project deliverables." Ranging from a logo and tagline design for the overall community brand to banner designs to specific pieces (e.g., a tote bag design) desired by certain organizations or businesses, the results of the branding project would be tools for promoting downtown Little Rock. It would be up to the organizations and businesses that participated in the branding project to put the tools to effective use.
Presently, several organizations - among them the Quapaw Quarter Association, the Downtown Neighborhood Association, the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation, and the Southside Main Street Project - are interested in pursuing a community branding project. And, as discussion continues, the focus of the branding project is evolving. For example, rather than "downtown Little Rock," perhaps the project needs to focus on "Quapaw Quarter neighborhoods." This approach could allow neighborhoods from Central High on the west to Hanger Hill on the east to join forces in promoting the benefits of living in the historic Quapaw Quarter while at the same time communicating the special qualities of each neighborhood. If a decision eventually is made to pursue a Quapaw Quarter neighborhoods branding project, more organizations - representing all corners of the Quapaw Quarter - will be invited to take part.
If you have thoughts about a prospective community branding project, for either downtown Little Rock or Quapaw Quarter neighborhoods, please share them with Rhea Roberts, firstname.lastname@example.org, or me, email@example.com Any community branding project undertaken must have the support of its community to be successful.
Visit the Arnette Muldrow and Associates website
Viva la Regulation!
By Boyd Maher
One person's "red tape" may be another's treasured procedural safeguard. - Herbert Kaufman
The beginnings of the historic preservation movement in the US are often traced to the "Mount Vernon Ladies", a group of wealthy Virginia women who in the 1850s endeavored to save the deteriorating homestead of George Washington. Preservation continued exclusively in this vein for generations: affluent community leaders raised money to save buildings of extraordinary historic or architectural importance.
It wasn't until the 1930s, with the passage of preservation ordinances in Charleston and New Orleans, that the public sector joined the effort to preserve cherished sites and neighborhoods. Arkansas communities didn't join the bandwagon until the 1970s, when Helena, Eureka Springs, and Fort Smith passed preservation ordinances of their own. But the General Assembly decided that the neighborhoods surrounding the State Capitol and Governor's Mansion were treasures for all Arkansans, and created a new state commission to review changes in what would become the Capitol Zoning District.
But why regulate? Americans, and Arkansans in particular, are proud to boast a strong tradition of private property rights. Why should a city, county, or state government tell a homeowner what to do with their little piece of the world? Why shouldn't preservation remain in the realm of the private or non-profit sector? Why all the red tape?
Because our heritage is that important. And because regulation works.
I'm going to go out on a limb and presume that everyone who reads the Quapaw Chronicle shares at least some basic level of belief that historic places are valuable and that our built heritage is worthy of preservation. So I won't rehash those arguments here.
But is regulation really necessary for preservation? If you want to maximize the benefits, then yes. Preservation's highest goals are realized en masse, when everyone agrees to play along. Just like the speed limit (a pretty widely accepted regulation) is most effective at protecting public safety when everyone abides by it, so does preservation see its highest benefit when everyone is subject to the same standards.
Can you think of any other public good that's realized when only one (or a few) observe the rules that yield that good? And if the protection of our community's heritage is indeed a public good, why should it be considered any differently?
But what right does anyone else have to tell you how to treat your home? A colleague once explained preservation to me in these terms (paraphrasing James Carville): It's real estate, stupid! Preservationists should remind themselves often than historic places are not just historic, but they are also places. And, with the notable exception of imaginary places, every place in the world is unfailingly located somewhere on a piece of real property. Real estate, of course, is all about location. An empty lot in downtown Little Rock can easily have greater market value than a large, well-maintained house in the country. The value of the most expensive house in Arkansas is dwarfed by that of an empty lot in downtown Manhattan. Identical houses built a block apart will have different market values, only because of that one block. The realtor's mantra has long been: location, location, location. All property derives an overwhelming portion of its value from its location.
In the case of our historic districts, a restored building raises the value of the properties surrounding it. A dilapidated structure depresses the value of the properties around it. A home in a historic district derives its value from the other historic homes around it. That is to say ... it is the surrounding historic buildings that lend their value to a given property.
So if surrounding property owners are lending value to your property, does it not make sense that those owners should have some say in what you do with that property?
And this, to me, is the heart of regulation. It's not about government telling property owners what to do. Rather, government is but the means through which historic property owners collectively protect their investment in a particular neighborhood.
But does it have to be (blech!) government that hold the keys? Why not a neighborhood association or some other form of peer pressure? I would submit that government represents the most effective and most accountable means for getting the job done. Many would disagree with that statement, and it won't hurt my feelings. But consider this ...
Think of all the places you like to visit -- be they in Hot Springs, Memphis, New Orleans, New York or Paris. I bet you that those places are likely protected by some kind of local historic preservation or design review law.
Now think of the places you would rather avoid - there's a good chance those places aren't much to look at. Sadly, the places in which you would prefer not to find yourself are often places that once had historic character, but allowed that character to slip away. Lack of regulation will do that.
I firmly believe that preserving our historic resources makes our communities better places to live. And I further believe that public sector regulation plays a critical role in the historic preservation movement. Yeah - I'll say it: Regulation can make people's lives better.
I'm proud to be preservationist and proud to be a regulator. I love serving the people of Arkansas and the residents of the Quapaw Quarter. Viva la regulacion!
The Old House Doctor
TURNING TO WINTER AND WHAT YOU CAN'T DO ABOUT IT
The wettest, coolest year in ever in Arkansas was, of course, followed by the hottest, driest ever. If that's not incentive for moving to Canada, I don't know what is. Also possibly the mid-term election results. Either way, more than my faith in Americans' voting preferences is cracking.
I have received more calls than ever about plaster cracking. Not drywall, mind you, but plaster. It seems the extremes in temperature and moisture are playing havoc with the expansion and contraction gods, and they're taking it out on you.
Hairline cracks can be taped with fiberglass mesh and floated smooth with drywall mud, but larger, deeper cracks may require special attention. Open the crack to a width of 3/16ths of an inch with a utility knife or paint scraper, making sure to expose the spaces in the wood lath behind. If the plaster is on brick, you don't have to worry about the spaces. Like duh.
Create an inverted 'v' by making the bottom of the crack wider than the top, vacuum out the dust, wet down the crack with water from a squirt bottle, then fill the crack with setting-type joint compound. This stuff comes in powder form, will set up hard in the time indicated on the bag (20 to 90 minutes), and will bind the wall back together. Make sure to push the wet mixture deep into the crack with enough pressure to squeeze it through the spaces in the lath behind. Make sure it lies lower than the surface of the plaster, because after it dries, you will float out the repair with regular old drywall mud.
It's a great way to spend the holidays, especially if Cousin Guido comes to visit with a large suitcase and his drum kit.
Old houses have some issues particular to them at this time of year, so I'm now going to chastise you for not attending to them.
Have you closed your foundation vents? How about the gable vents in the attic? You cretin. These only make your electric bill more astronomical than normal. And though some of you will erroneously assume that closing attic vents will lead to moisture buildup, trust me. Your old home's attic is so full of air infiltration that you could put a humidifier up there and the steam it creates wouldn't even condense.
Put some Styrofoam hose bibb covers onto your outside hose bibbs. And don't ask me where the word 'bibb' comes from; I'm still trying to figure out the origin of 'soffit,' and I've been using that word for thirty-five years. Pipes near open foundation vents are subject to freezing first; wrap them or cover you damn vents already.
This has been a banner year for rats and mice; I found this out the hard way when I fired up my oven for the first time since spring (I cook exclusively outside in the hot months). Oh, my! The kitchen has a rather piquant aroma now, I can tell you. Time for the Easy-Off. I've been pretty successful with warfarin baits in my client's homes, but I prefer a good ole fashioned mousetrap with peanut butter. Creamy Jif, of course. I wouldn't touch the stuff, but the meeses love it. The problem with poison is that it sometimes leads to dead rodents in the wall. Then you'll be calling me to extract them.
Okay, enough of that subject. Let's talk about something much more pleasant; your house burning down.
The holidaze are upon you, and though the Grinch in me screams "Get them off!!," (hey, Chuck! Remember that line from the 1996 OHD?) you are saddled with them. Don't like it? Become an atheist. After the operation, you'll hardly notice the difference. Everyone else will, though.
Several wonderful scenarios come to my mind at this time of year; the dog watering the tree in his own special way, the kids lopping off limbs with real light sabers you were stupid enough to give them for Christmas, Cousin Guido thumping away upstairs as he practices Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick."
But the scene that pushes these out of the way is that of the wires in your wall sizzling before they ignite.
Holidays tend to see more of a load on your electrical circuits due to the electronic games, computers, DVD players and other gifty effluvia you people waste your money on (excuse me; that was rude! I meant to write 'on which you waste your money'). Add the lights and the robot Santa and eight tiny reindeer on the roof, and you might be heading for disaster.
If you have had your old house completely rewired with grounded Romex (identified by a plastic white or yellow sheath surrounding a bare wire, a white wire and a black wire), and you have a large gray breaker box equipped with black switch-type breakers, you might be in the clear. If, however, you have screw-in fuses, you might already be on fire.
Most homes with these early fuse boxes have a much more limited electrical load capacity, and therefore can only handle so many Wiis and Xboxes.
Honestly, who comes up with these names? They're complete undiluted drivel.
The fact that you might have ungrounded sheathed cable (usually indicated by silver sheathing or two-pronged receptacles) lets you know that power surges, spikes and close lightning strikes are not going to be safely directed into the ground. And even if you have three-pronged outlets, they should be checked by an electrician; many older homes have had these installed on a two-wire system.
If you go into the attic and can see two individual wires running side by side and held off the joists with white porcelain insulators, you have what is known as a 'knob and tube' system, which is the most ancient of all. Even if it is ancient and ungrounded, it only becomes unsafe when it is either covered with cellulose insulation, has its sheathing removed, or becomes overloaded. The insulating sheathing on this type of wire is cloth-covered rubber, which, if disturbed, will crumble like American voters' resolve does every two years. And if something crosses the two wires, there will be many sparks and a nice warm conflagration next to which you can warm your toes.
So don't overload your system. Remember that VOLTS are used as a measurement of how much power goes into an appliance (110 in most cases, 220 for stoves, air conditioners and dryers), but AMPS are the amount of load that each appliance draws. Microwaves, power tools, and toasters draw 20 to thirty amps, and most of the breakers in your house will trip beyond this level. Run two thirty amp appliances on one circuit, and the breaker will trip. But if it's a screw-in fuse, it will burn out if you're lucky. Otherwise, get the marshmallows.
Electricity is nothing to take lightly. Talk to an electrician before big chunks of sizzling power begin to roll around the house.
Some other things you haven't though about because you're too busy watching television shows about snarky people trying outdo one another's snarkiness, or featuring decomposed bodies and how they got that way (really, who writes this crap? And more importantly, why do you watch it?).
Have you got the ice melt? It won't do you any good if it's still at the hardware store after the Big Storm. Got candles? Have you outfitted at least one room with a gas space heater so you won't freeze your butt off when the power is out for six days?
I heat my house exclusively with antique gas heaters, and I will laugh at your pleas to stay at my home as you shiver at the bottom of my stairs. And you won't be able to climb them, either, because though I HAVE ice melt, I don't use it on the stairs specifically to deter freeloaders like you.
Well, there you have it.
Chunks of falling plaster, freezing pipes, rats in the oven, your house going up in flames, falling on the ice, living in an unheated house for a week, and Cousin Guido practicing Led Zeppelin on his drums. Have I left anything out?
Oh, yeah, decomposed bodies and the kids lopping off each other's arms.
That should just about do it.
This is the Old House Doctor telling you to have a Big Merry One.
I need a drink.
Quapaw Quarter Association