thumbnail of Arkansas: Its Architectural Heritage: 1800-1861
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<v Announcer>The following program was produced by the Arkansas Educational Television Commission <v Announcer>in cooperation with the University of Arkansas School of Architecture. <v Announcer>Funds were provided by a grant from the Arkansas Endowment for the Humanities. <v Narrator>Long before the first Europeans set foot on this continent, sweet gum <v Narrator>and hickory, sycamore and cypress trees lined the banks of the Red, the <v Narrator>White, and the Washita rivers, buffalo by
<v Narrator>the thousands roam through the prairie grass. <v Narrator>Even Panthers wandered through the forest at will. <v Narrator>The Osage, Caddo, the Quapaw Indians harpoon <v Narrator>fish, stalked deer and bear, and gathered nuts and <v Narrator>wild plums and persimmons in the forest. <v Narrator>Some of the Indian tribes lived in villages along the riverbanks, while others <v Narrator>preferred the rugged terrain of the Ozark highlands. <v Narrator>Some of the dwellings were made of poles with woven <v Narrator>tree branches built sometimes against earth berms. <v Narrator>Sometimes they used the buffalo skin and deer skins in a tent <v Narrator>fashion and pitched them at night after the long day's hunt was over. <v Narrator>It was this wild and untamed land with its diverse Indian <v Narrator>cultures that the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and his men first
<v Narrator>encountered in 1541. <v Narrator>But it was left to the French explorer Lassall,. <v Narrator>More than 100 years later to finally claim the entire Mississippi <v Narrator>Valley for France. He named it Louisiana for his King Louis the 14th. <v Narrator>And part of this vast territory was Arkansas. <v Narrator>In 1686 Arkansas Post, located on the Arkansas River, <v Narrator>50 miles up from its confluence with the Mississippi, became the first <v Narrator>white settlement in Arkansas.
<v Narrator>Of course, France eventually ceded all of Louisiana, west of the Mississippi to Spain. <v Narrator>Spanish land grants lured a few hearty Americans, most of whom came from Kentucky <v Narrator>and Tennessee. But on the whole, immigration was slow and intermittent. <v Narrator>In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson purchased all of the Louisiana territory <v Narrator>for 15 million dollars. <v Narrator>Surely the real estate bargain of all time, fewer than 600 people, <v Narrator>excluding the Indian population, lived on Arkansas land at this time. <v Narrator>To protect themselves against often harsh and unrelenting elements, <v Narrator>our early forefathers built shelters, sometimes of fallen tree limbs, <v Narrator>sometimes of stacked stones against the bluff side. <v Narrator>Sometimes they found caves buried deep into the bluff. <v Narrator>Those with permanent designs on the land built log cabins. <v Narrator>Typical of these architectural symbols of pioneer America is
<v Narrator>the Latta house. It was built by John Latta, a carpenter who brought his young <v Narrator>family from South Carolina. <v Narrator>Accompanying him was a whole community of craftsmen, blacksmiths, a <v Narrator>wheelwright, a cobbler, a miller and a weaver, a tailor. <v Narrator>They lived in Old Vineyard in Washington County. <v Narrator>This historic house that belonged to Latta has been moved from its original site in Old <v Narrator>Vineyard to be preserved in Prairie Grove Battlefield Park. <v Narrator>Some log dwellings were single pin structures. <v Narrator>That means there was only one room. <v Narrator>Some as small as 8 by 10 feet. <v Narrator>Most, however, were 16 to 20 feet square, which was a dimension determined <v Narrator>by the manageable length of a hand hewn log. <v Narrator>If time and labor permitted a double pin was certainly preferable <v Narrator>to a single pin, for crowding was common. <v Narrator>A single pin was sometimes called upon to accommodate as many as 10 people.
<v Narrator>So while this house was built in 1836, the essential <v Narrator>design has remained the same for a period of centuries. <v Narrator>In fact, they're still building log houses the same today. <v Narrator>A lot of houses are 1 and a half story to pen structure. <v Narrator>Its 2 pins being separated by a log partition. <v Narrator>The chinking between logs and the corner joints are technical <v Narrator>problems that are shared by all log structures. <v Narrator>The chinking between the logs vary. <v Narrator>Large cracks were filled with pieces of split wood or sometimes even stone, and then the <v Narrator>remaining crevices were filled with mud, mortar or sometimes mixed with lime. <v Narrator>This house demonstrates one of a variety of ways that the corner joint was handled. <v Narrator>The joint shown here is the best kind of joint. <v Narrator>It's called a full dovetail joint. <v Narrator>It locks the logs so that they can't be pulled apart in the first place. <v Narrator>And the second place, all the horizontal surfaces are sloped to turn the weather.
<v Narrator>Lean to roofs, front and back, provided that essential <v Narrator>shaded outdoor space that's always been such an important part of the <v Narrator>American domestic life. <v Narrator>This steep winding corner stairway leads to the half story bedrooms <v Narrator>above. The furniture you see, the beds, chairs <v Narrator>and table were built in Latta's own carpentry shop. <v Narrator>Deep fireplace warmed the family and cooked their meals. <v Narrator>The early settlers to this region sometimes experienced a much
<v Narrator>harsher and more primitive existence. <v Narrator>Let me read to you what a visitor had to say in 1818. <v Narrator>He was visiting in the upper White River region. <v Narrator>He says in manners, morals, customs, dress and contempt <v Narrator>for labor and hospitality. <v Narrator>This state of society is not essentially different from that which exists <v Narrator>among the savages. By the savages, he meant the Indians. <v Narrator>Hunting and trapping teams, more trenchant than the settled farmers, <v Narrator>usually build the roughest kind of one room log houses, <v Narrator>sometimes without floors, doors, shutters or even windows. <v Narrator>Neither wind, no rain or snow sometimes was excluded. <v Narrator>The more permanent family dwellings had doors and windows that worked on leather hinges
<v Narrator>or on pegs fitted into holes in the floors. <v Narrator>The floors, if not of hard packed dirt and variety made of hewed or split logs called <v Narrator>?inaudible? <v Narrator>Lights sometimes were made by wrapping strips of fat bacon around the <v Narrator>stick and lighting and sticking the other end of the stick into the crack between <v Narrator>the logs. <v Narrator>Windows were sometimes made by covering the opening with <v Narrator>scraped animal skins and then oiling it, or sometimes oiling paper. <v Narrator>The attic was used to dry foods of different kinds. <v Narrator>Meat, strips of pumpkin, shuck beans like this <v Narrator>were hung to dry and all of this added flavor and aroma to the pioneer <v Narrator>life. 1 of the most familiar longhouse designs is called the Dog <v Narrator>Trot. It used a common breezeway to separate the 2 pins. <v Narrator>Sometimes the breezeway was used to protect animals and wagons.
<v Narrator>Also on cold nights. The whole family might sleep in one room, putting livestock in the <v Narrator>other pin. The breezeway, often supplemented by lean <v Narrator>to porches front and back provided sheltered outdoor space <v Narrator>for a variety of family activities, especially resting and viewing the landscape. <v Narrator>An almost inevitable feature of these houses, rural or urban, was <v Narrator>the fence. It defined the property, it kept animals in <v Narrator>certain animals out, and it made life more orderly. <v Narrator>And of course, there were the outbuildings, they were an automatic part of this pioneer <v Narrator>scene. There was the well, the spring house, the chicken coop, a smokehouse, <v Narrator>outhouse or the pravy, and often a detached kitchen. <v Narrator>A superior example of an elegant frontier house is found in the pioneer <v Narrator>grace of the Jacob Wolfe house located in Norfolk in Baxter <v Narrator>County. Tree ring dating, this is the science
<v Narrator>of determining the precise year a tree was cut by reading and interpreting <v Narrator>the annual ring patterns has given the building date of this house <v Narrator>as 1825. <v Narrator>It's fullness of features, it's 2 story dimensions, stone <v Narrator>chimneys at both ends. Full length, 2 story galleries on both sides <v Narrator>and the ground level breezeway. <v Narrator>All of these assembled with a better than average craftsmanship give <v Narrator>this house a distinction surpassing all other extant pioneer buildings <v Narrator>in Arkansas. I can't resist calling it a noble specimen <v Narrator>of log construction. <v Narrator>Similar to all these sturdy structures, whether it was a 1 room cabin <v Narrator>or a large 2 story house, was the fortitude and <v Narrator>the courage of these early pioneers. <v Narrator>During the years that followed the Louisiana Purchase, they continued to arrive in slow <v Narrator>but steady numbers.
<v Narrator>Many came by way of the famous Southwest Trail. <v Narrator>It was a major traffic artery that entered the state just about <v Narrator>where the present day town of Corning is. <v Narrator>It followed the fall line of the Ozark Mountains going diagonally across <v Narrator>the state. Crossing the Arkansas River, approximately where Little <v Narrator>Rock is today, and continuing diagonally onto the south, <v Narrator>toward Texas and eventually Mexico. <v Narrator>Despite their hard life amusements were quite popular among the pioneers. <v Narrator>Parties with dancing at Arkansas Post had been described as all night <v Narrator>affairs on most weekends, and both men and women are reported to <v Narrator>have appeared at gambling tables. In 1819, a Protestant missionary <v Narrator>named Timothy Flindt records that he found the settlers polite but somewhat <v Narrator>disinterested in his sermons. <v Narrator>Some would come dressed up for a dance and go directly from the service to the dancing.
<v Narrator>Others would come into the small chapel, listen for his bell, and then go next door to a <v Narrator>billiard room. <v Narrator>By 1890, regional population had mushroomed to nearly 14,000. <v Narrator>That same year, President James Monroe elevated Arkansas to the status of territory, <v Narrator>with Arkansas Post designated as the seat of the government. <v Narrator>In 1819, William Woodroffe came to Arkansas by way of Tennessee and set up his <v Narrator>presses at Arkansas Post and published the weekly Arkansas Gazette. <v Narrator>By 1820, the riverboat Comet had the honor of being the first steamboat to enter the <v Narrator>Arkansas River and dock at the Post. <v Narrator>Trading continued as the main commerce of the post region. <v Narrator>Cotton planting had begun to use some dividends, and rice growing on a small scale <v Narrator>was also successful. <v Narrator>Flour was selling at 10 dollars a barrel, equal to the price received for 6 <v Narrator>hides. <v Narrator>Despite the heavy trade and consistent prosperity of Arkansas Post, the capital
<v Narrator>of the new territory was moved 300 miles upstream to Little Rock in 1821. <v Narrator>Arkansas Post was too far from the center of the territory and besides, it was located <v Narrator>in the low, mosquito ridden area. <v Narrator>While the terrain around Little Rock was high, lush and fertile on both sides <v Narrator>of the river. It's difficult to envision, I know, but there <v Narrator>were fewer than 12 buildings in Little Rock in 1821. <v Narrator>The town grew so slowly, as a matter of fact, that there was talk of <v Narrator>moving the capital to a new location if developers didn't take more interest. <v Narrator>An attempt to revitalize the community by renaming it Arkopolis <v Narrator>almost took root. <v Narrator>The name generated enough interest that it appears on a number of maps <v Narrator>of the territorial period. <v Narrator>By 1826 little Rock had established <v Narrator>an identity. <v Narrator>There was a printer from Boston named Hiram Wittington, who wrote a letter
<v Narrator>back east saying there were 60 buildings in the town, 6 of brick, <v Narrator>8 of frame, and the les- the rest were log cabins. <v Narrator>In his letter, he continues to say The Little Rock <v Narrator>Academy is in a log hut and the state house is a little narrow, low <v Narrator>wooden building about 10 feet by 10 feet. <v Narrator>Instead of streets, we walk from one cow path to another from house to house. <v Narrator>He also notes that the best brick building is the one occupied by the newspaper <v Narrator>The Gazette and is as good a one as you will see in Boston. <v Narrator>Arkansas was definitely on the move. <v Narrator>Interestingly, the growing sophistication of architectural forms reflected an increasing <v Narrator>maturity of social institutions. <v Narrator>And as people began to put permanent roots into the soil, they also began <v Narrator>to take a more avid interest in politics.
<v Narrator>And many of the Little Rock political discussions <v Narrator>took place amidst the dancing, drinking, fun loving atmosphere that was provided <v Narrator>by the Hinderliter Place. <v Narrator>The structure was built by Jesse Hinderliter in the la- in the late 1820s. <v Narrator>He lived here with his family and ran a grog shop. <v Narrator>We're certain that portions of the building qualify it to be listed among the oldest <v Narrator>surviving buildings in Arkansas. <v Narrator>Legend holds that the territorial government met here at the Hinderliter <v Narrator>and on occasion had to call man up from the bar to make a quorum for a vote. <v Narrator>As distinctive as this anecdote is, there is absolutely no documentation <v Narrator>to suggest that the assembly met here formally. <v Narrator>Hinderliter has been remodeled considerably during its long life. <v Narrator>The latest remodeling has been the restoration of the mid 20th century, which has <v Narrator>left the building looking far more respectable, I suspect, than it did through <v Narrator>most of the 19th and early 20th century.
<v Narrator>One fact is certain this honorable building accounted for the merrymaking <v Narrator>of a great number of Arkansas's early settlers. <v Narrator>By 1934, 9 steamboats regularly traveled the Arkansas River, and a few years later, they were just <v Narrator>in the White and the Red and the St. Francis Rivers as well. <v Narrator>By 1836, the territorial population had reached 52,000 people. <v Narrator>Many still entered the region via the Southwest Trail on the Arkansas River. <v Narrator>But by then, the Red River Washita waterway was bringing settlers from the south. <v Narrator>While an overland route from Missouri serviced the northwest portion of the territory, <v Narrator>Hot Springs, Helena and Fort Smith, as well as Camden, Batesville
<v Narrator>and Fayetteville, were quickly establishing themselves as important commercial centers. <v Narrator>Travel had improved considerably, but journeys were still slow and tedious. <v Narrator>Whether by land or by water. <v Narrator>The McHenry house, better known as the 10 Mile House, is a fine example of the better <v Narrator>inns and stagecoach houses of the day. <v Narrator>They provided food and drink and a dry bed for the weary traveler. <v Narrator>Located 10 miles south of Little Rock on the great Southwest Trail, this superb <v Narrator>illustration of the Georgian federal style was constructed about 1835. <v Narrator>There are a few common characteristics of the federal style buildings in Arkansas, <v Narrator>the leading feature being a spare brick functionalism with only the <v Narrator>slightest suggestion of classical detailing on the exterior. <v Narrator>Its parapet and walls which sloped upward parallel with the roof pitch, <v Narrator>terminate in a wide chimney stack. <v Narrator>Accommodating as many as four flues in one cluster.
<v Narrator>Lintels spanning the window ?inaudible? <v Narrator>are flat arches of brick. <v Narrator>The McHenry house here has the full complement of brick outbuildings so necessary <v Narrator>to rural households striving for self-sufficiency. <v Narrator>Federal forms were found most commonly in commercial frontage property shown here in <v Narrator>postwar photographs of Little Rock. <v Narrator>I find it a real disappointment that none of these plain but well proportioned brick <v Narrator>commercial facades have survived to our time. <v Narrator>They were a genuine architectural legacy of our Eastern Seaboard origins. <v Narrator>For years, the territory government had met in log cabins and rented <v Narrator>rooms in churches. <v Narrator>Then in 1831, Congress granted 10 sections of land. <v Narrator>6400 acres, that is, of public land which could be sold, the proceeds of which they
<v Narrator>used to build a state house. <v Narrator>Territory Governor Pope sought the services of a skilled <v Narrator>architect from Kentucky named Gideon Shryock. <v Narrator>He prepared plans and dispatched his associate, George Weigert, <v Narrator>to Little Rock, bringing the drawings, and he served as supervising architect <v Narrator>until his untimely death in 1834. <v Narrator>The building was an ambitious effort to create an architectural symbol for the unity <v Narrator>and dignity of the Arkansas people. <v Narrator>In 1833, same year that construction began on the old State House, <v Narrator>Congress granted the territorial government permission to draft a state constitution. <v Narrator>Nearly 3 years later, June 15th, 1836, after public <v Narrator>rallies and negotiations and all kinds of congressional delays, <v Narrator>Andrew Jackson signed the bill making Arkansas the 25th State of the <v Narrator>Union. On July 4 of 1836, although the State House
<v Narrator>was not quite completed, Arkansans everywhere celebrated Arkansas's <v Narrator>identity as a proud new state and the exquisite symbol of her <v Narrator>new statehood. <v Narrator>Functional changes have required modification of that original building, but its Greek <v Narrator>ancestry is as evident today as ever. <v Narrator>The pediment sculpture is simply the state seal. <v Narrator>The 2 tiered netablature supported by the columns is well proportioned. <v Narrator>Its angular surface creates an appealing pattern of light and shade. <v Narrator>However, here the 19th century architect took license with classical <v Narrator>ornament. And what's more, the angular surfaces of this <v Narrator>entablature are pressed metal, not marble. <v Narrator>1 of the limitations of budgets and available material. <v Narrator>The handsome marble like fluted columns are actually made of shaped brick <v Narrator>covered with stucco. <v Narrator>The main building in its smaller satellite wings also have surfaces of stucco brick,
<v Narrator>originally painted a shade of gray to simulate some fine building stone. <v Narrator>We might say then that on its birthday, Arkansas joined the rest of the western <v Narrator>world in rediscovering the inspiring <v Narrator>democratic principles of the territory in Greece. <v Narrator>This rediscovered power was reflected in politics, in art <v Narrator>and especially in architecture. <v Narrator>From 1800 until the Civil War, the Doric perfection <v Narrator>of the Parthenon's pediment and porticos cast its influence <v Narrator>on all serious building of residential or monumental scale. <v Narrator>The goal was the perfect Greek temple success in achieving <v Narrator>this goal of course was dependent on the budget, the available <v Narrator>materials, the functions required and of course, the skill <v Narrator>of the architect.
<v Narrator>Like our national capital building in Washington, this building has been much <v Narrator>altered by functional requirements and time. <v Narrator>The present day restoration of the Senate chamber recalls the original <v Narrator>austere dignity of the interior and its furnishings. <v Narrator>The process of governing the new state often required great energy and <v Narrator>patience. <v Narrator>The influx of new commercial enterprises <v Narrator>and the increase of population demanded that the new <v Narrator>state receive substantial protection. <v Narrator>Soon after the state was admitted to the Union, Governor James Conway <v Narrator>appealed to the War Department, we're a frontier people exposed to savage invasions <v Narrator>and are often in pressing need of assistance and protection, which only the federal <v Narrator>government can afford. <v Narrator>In response, the War Department appropriated the sum of 14,000 dollars for an arsenal
<v Narrator>which was built in 1838 on the site which today makes up MacArthur <v Narrator>Park. The unornament functionalism, the federal style <v Narrator>and almost official style along the eastern seaboard for commercial and military <v Narrator>building is shown best in this early engraving. <v Narrator>The balustraded balconies we see today are editions of later generations. <v Narrator>Impressive this building must have been for this frontier community in comparison <v Narrator>with the new Greek revival state house, it was conservatively old fashioned. <v Narrator>By 1840 Governor Conway was greatly pleased with the general health of the state, <v Narrator>boasted a population of nearly 100,000. <v Narrator>Many of the affluent citizens built their residences, which reflected <v Narrator>their status and wealth, as well as symbolized the Greek principles of <v Narrator>harmony and balance, rhythm and proportion. <v Narrator>This elegant brick structure with its balustraded Ionic Portico, was built in 1840
<v Narrator>by Absolom Power. Who was one of the delegates to the first constitutional <v Narrator>convention. Fowler was a successful lawyer and land speculator, <v Narrator>and we suspect that he was a designer of his own home. <v Narrator>It's notable for an unusual floor plan, which places a wide hall across the front <v Narrator>of the house rather than in the customary central position. <v Narrator>The brick structure possesses characteristics of both the federal and Greek revival <v Narrator>styles. <v Narrator>Another leading example is this distinctive house built by Albert Pike, a politician, <v Narrator>teacher, attorney and 1 time editor of The Advocate. <v Narrator>Pike was an adventurer, a bon vivant, and he obviously desired a home commensurate <v Narrator>with his personality. <v Narrator>Built in 1841, its monumental proportions are dominated <v Narrator>by the unfluted 2 story brick Ionic columns. <v Narrator>The Pike House can be called the state's grandest example of the popular
<v Narrator>image of the southern antebellum plantation. <v Narrator>Except for 1 reason, it was never on a plantation. <v Narrator>It was always a townhouse. A magnificent Greek revival townhouse. <v Narrator>Frederic Trapnell, a close friend of both Fowler and Pike, constructed his <v Narrator>fine residence in 1843. <v Narrator>Originally a resident of Kentucky, Trapnell, surely was familiar with the work of Gideon <v Narrator>Shryock. It's believed by many that the house was patterned after a design <v Narrator>by Shryock. The red bricks painted white in modern times <v Narrator>are said to have been made in Kentucky and shipped by River Barge to Little Rock. <v Narrator>An act of questionable wisdom, in my opinion, since brick production in Little Rock <v Narrator>by this time is a thriving industry. <v Narrator>The house was designed for large scale entertainment, and its double <v Narrator>parlors opening off the spacious central hallway were <v Narrator>perfect for that purpose. <v Narrator>All 3 of these grand Little Rock houses were made of brick.
<v Narrator>The prevalence of brick structures at this time suggests that brick as an available <v Narrator>building materials was second only to hand hewn logs. <v Narrator>In some areas, it could have been more available to early settlers than <v Narrator>sawn or plain lumber floors or to anyone who was <v Narrator>familiar with a relatively simple technology of mixing, molding <v Narrator>and firing of clay bricks. <v Narrator>This age old building material was available when refined wood was scarce. <v Narrator>Refinement and elegance were not confined to the state capital city. <v Narrator>In Fayetteville, for example, the popularity of brick as typified by one of several brick <v Narrator>residences built by Judge David Walker, about 1845. <v Narrator>It has a popular 2 story central hall plan with flues clustered at the ridge line <v Narrator>in the federal manner. Brick was not only practical to produce almost anywhere. <v Narrator>It carried with it an image of durable respectability, a sort of upper class resistance
<v Narrator>to fire and decay. <v Narrator>The two story gallery seen here is a Victorian replacement of a simpler original, <v Narrator>which was more in keeping with the overall federal form. <v Narrator>Many of our earliest buildings are still with us only because they were built of durable <v Narrator>brick. While the Fowler, Pike, and Trapnell residences are <v Narrator>fine examples of lavish townhouses, they were grand exceptions <v Narrator>to the norm. <v Narrator>The more typical form, even for the affluent, are seen here in the Tebbits House <v Narrator>in Fayetteville was the modest 1 story central hall cottage <v Narrator>with its side lighted and transom doorways sheltered by a pedimented Greek temple <v Narrator>portico. <v Narrator>Built by Yankee lawyer Jonas Tebbits just a few years before the Civil <v Narrator>War, it was in the crossfire that conflict and served both Union <v Narrator>and Confederate forces as military headquarters. <v Narrator>As the fortunes of war placed Fayetteville under the control of both flags. <v Narrator>It's rather rare fluted wood columns and unusually rich
<v Narrator>?inaudible? Detailing survive today, and the Washington County Historical Society <v Narrator>maintains it as a house museum. <v Narrator>Arkansas is quintessential Greek revival building is not a residence or a seat of county <v Narrator>or state government. This small law office, the Leak Ingham Building, <v Narrator>built in Camden in 1850, fulfills the Greek temple image <v Narrator>more completely than almost any other pre civil war building I know. <v Narrator>Another outstanding building is the famous <v Narrator>Pott Inn and Pottsville, Polk County, a popular stopover on the stagecoach <v Narrator>line from Fort Smith to Little Rock. <v Narrator>Built in 1850 by Kirk Bridgepotts, the timber was cut locally <v Narrator>and hauled by oxen to Eagles Mill, north of what is now Russellville <v Narrator>and cut into lumber. Bricks for the chimneys were also produced locally and laid <v Narrator>up by community craftsmen. <v Narrator>We're all familiar with the popular image associated with the South, <v Narrator>the antebellum colonnaded plantation mansions framed in Mammoth Magnolias
<v Narrator>and live oaks against the backdrop of cotton fields stretching to the horizon. <v Narrator>Mansions in Arkansas fulfilling this image are actually in short supply. <v Narrator>In Hillen, not far from where Mississippi banks, the General Tapan House was a plantation <v Narrator>owner's mansion, which must have been extremely modern for the late 1950s. <v Narrator>It presented a splendid pediment and Greek temple fund with some very fashionable <v Narrator>Italianate bracketing at the cornice. <v Narrator>The great house was once surrounded by the entire architectural complement of <v Narrator>a plantation compound. <v Narrator>Numerous outbuildings and slave quarters disappeared long ago, and the big house survives <v Narrator>today as a townhouse facing on a paved street which it shares with residences <v Narrator>reflecting late 19th and 20th century values. <v Narrator>The genuine and surviving plantation house is best represented in Arkansas <v Narrator>by the Lycurgus Johnson House. <v Narrator>Built in 1852 in Chico County near Lakeport, protected from the Mississippi
<v Narrator>in modern times via levee. <v Narrator>It's now unoccupied and its windows are boarded up against weather and vandals. <v Narrator>But it is still surrounded by cotton fields and a cluster of brick and frame <v Narrator>outbuildings with its simple but well proportioned 2 story portico, <v Narrator>its monumental floor to ceiling windows in its refined details of door paneling <v Narrator>and cornice lines, the huge Johnson House takes the honors as our finest <v Narrator>example of the grand plantation house. <v Narrator>No exploration into the architectural heritage of our state would be even partially <v Narrator>complete without a visit to old Washington for no community <v Narrator>is more deeply rooted in Arkansas history or reflects so uniquely in the influence <v Narrator>of the Greek revival architectural style. <v Narrator>Although many of the dwellings have long since disappeared, some of the existing <v Narrator>buildings demonstrate dramatically how strong was the Greek revival force <v Narrator>during the two decades preceding the events leading up to the Civil War.
<v Narrator>An important stop at the intersection of a southwest trail and the immigration routes <v Narrator>from Louisiana, Washington was the jumping off place for travelers on their <v Narrator>way to seek fame and fortune in Texas and Mexico. <v Narrator>Heavy traffic to and from the Southwest gave birth to romantic narratives, bearing the <v Narrator>legendary names of Sam Houston and Steven Austin, Davy Crockett and <v Narrator>Jim Buoy. The town also served as the Confederate capital of <v Narrator>Arkansas for 2 years when the Union army occupied Little Rock. <v Narrator>The state administration occupied the Hempstead County Courthouse. <v Narrator>In about 1845 Grandison Royston built this house. <v Narrator>It reflects a taste for order and tradition. <v Narrator>The strongest Greek image is the temple front. <v Narrator>It demonstrates here in the Royston house residential scale and the art <v Narrator>of carpentry instead of masonry. <v Narrator>Its square box columns were much easier for the carpenter than round fluted ones.
<v Narrator>The sidelights and transom around the door provide an attractive and efficient means of <v Narrator>lighting the central hallway. <v Narrator>These small windows were never a part of a real Greek temple, but they've become an <v Narrator>almost inevitable feature of any American building with Greek pretensions. <v Narrator>Plush paneling surrounding the entrance is another Greek revival convention, <v Narrator>presumably emulating stone more closely than does the overlapping <v Narrator>weather boarding we see beyond the portico shelter. <v Narrator>The inner spaces of this house reveal a grand scale that's not immediately <v Narrator>evident from the outside. <v Narrator>The hallway is surprisingly wide, the ceilings proportionately <v Narrator>high. It was a great space for the family, often used as a living <v Narrator>room, often as a dining room table at one in. <v Narrator>The Royston house is a double house, that means it was 2 rooms deep rather
<v Narrator>than the more common 1. <v Narrator>Fireplaces serving these rooms are back to back on the separating partitions. <v Narrator>Furnishings of the house are of the popular early 19th century style <v Narrator>known as empire style. <v Narrator>It has a precision of ornament compatible with the calculated proportions <v Narrator>of the Greek revival architecture. <v Narrator>Grandison Royston had concern for the beauty of the surrounding landscape as well. <v Narrator>Many of the trees in this community had been planted by Grandison. <v Narrator>Perhaps even this enormous magnolia tree in front of his house. <v Narrator>The Augustus Crouch house, the perfect example of the central hall cottage with L and <v Narrator>rear porch. Has been moved about a mile from the outskirts to the heart <v Narrator>of the town. <v Narrator>It's been stabilized on new brick piers, at a standard height from the ground.
<v Narrator>New material has been used only where serious decay of the original made new <v Narrator>material necessary. <v Narrator>This typical and perfect example of the simple central hall cottage <v Narrator>will demonstrate its close kinship with its country cousin, the Dog Trot House. <v Narrator>The Dog Trot was often in log, but perhaps as often seen in frame. <v Narrator>The Greek revival central hall cottage has precisely the same form, <v Narrator>the central hall merely being enclosed with a panel door surrounded by sidelights <v Narrator>and trencham. <v Narrator>The Simon Sanders house boasts not 1, but 2 entrances marked by pedimented <v Narrator>porticos, 1 facing north and 1 to the east. <v Narrator>They both display craftsmanship familiar to the community. <v Narrator>The recently restored Monroe House is yet another example of Washington's <v Narrator>familiar form. <v Narrator>It's surviving out building is representative of similar ones all these dwellings
<v Narrator>once had. <v Narrator>Places of worship were as essential to American pioneers as their dwellings. <v Narrator>And in Arkansas, they varied from camp meeting arbors and simple log structures to the <v Narrator>distinguished classicism of old Washington's Methodist Church built in 1861. <v Narrator>It's easy to admire the several finely crafted houses that have survived the 2 <v Narrator>decades prior to the Civil War. <v Narrator>But it's important to keep in mind that the survival of these buildings does not mean <v Narrator>that all Arkansans of this pre civil war period had such splendid dwellings. <v Narrator>Thousands of early citizens of Arkansas farmers, laborers, craftsmen, <v Narrator>small landowners, even many professionals such as lawyers and doctors and <v Narrator>clergymen, occupied log and frame structures far more <v Narrator>modest than these stylish cottages of old Washington. <v Narrator>In any Arkansas community, the wealth tends to be in the hands of a few.
<v Narrator>Architecture always has been and always will be an accurate reflection of the social <v Narrator>values, the available technology and the economic capacity of a society. <v Narrator>By 1860, most of the 400,000 Arkansans were enjoying a period <v Narrator>of progress and prosperity. <v Narrator>But regardless of an expanding economy, the vast majority of citizens were <v Narrator>self-sufficient. They made their own clothes, they tanned their own leather, <v Narrator>and they cultivated their own fields. <v Narrator>And they sat by their bedsides and nursed their ailing loved ones through the night. <v Narrator>The turbulent war torn years, which followed quickly on the heels of Arkansas' prosperity <v Narrator>would gravely test the mettle of these pioneer ancestors. <v Narrator>After Confederate guns opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina in <v Narrator>April 1861, Arkansas regiments began organizing <v Narrator>to fight for the South. <v Narrator>On May 20th, Arkansas was admitted into the Confederacy.
Arkansas: Its Architectural Heritage: 1800-1861
Producing Organization
AETN (Television station : Conway, Ark.)
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Contributing Organization
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Program Description
"ARKANSAS: ITS ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE: 1800-1861 is a [42-minute] color film narrated by Cyrus A. Sutherland, professor of architectural history at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a recognized authority on early nineteenth century architecture. The film is a fascinating examination of the state's pre-Civil War legacy and it explores architectural sites throughout Arkansas, revealing a rich and varied heritage comprised of both vernacular and high-style buildings. It is Professor Sutherland's contention that 'architecture is a real and graphic expression of the aspirations and the values of the people who built it.'"--1982 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Producing Organization: AETN (Television station : Conway, Ark.)
Producing Organization: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-5c02037d1a1 (Filename)
Format: U-matic
Duration: 0:41:50
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Chicago: “Arkansas: Its Architectural Heritage: 1800-1861,” 1982, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 27, 2022,
MLA: “Arkansas: Its Architectural Heritage: 1800-1861.” 1982. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 27, 2022. <>.
APA: Arkansas: Its Architectural Heritage: 1800-1861. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from