Amazing guest experiences start with the great service and luxury guestrooms. WELCOME TO THE EMPRESS SERIES: Stories From an 1888 Gothic Queen Anne Mansion with amazing luxury guest rooms!!
We start with The Hornibrook Suite, named for James H. Hornibrook. It has hand painted tiles on the fireplace and is original to the home. They were painted by Mr. Hornibrook’s sister, Mary Leicester Wagner, an artist of some repute from the Detroit area. She painstakingly hand lettered the tile with an excerpt from Milton’s poem, L ‘Allegro. “And every shepherd tells his tale under the hawthorn in the dale.”
One of the most elegant luxury guestrooms in Little Rock, The Hornibrook Suite features a massive Renaissance Revival Queen size Walnut Half Tester (pronounced teaster) antique bedroom suite from the 1880’s. The furniture is showcased in The Hornibrook Suite because it is one of the largest suites at The Empress and was originally Mr. Hornibrook’s room; it would have had the grandest bedroom furniture in the house. In the bathroom, our guests always comment on the old fashioned “water closet toilet” and they ask if it is original to the home. The answer is yes, but the toilet bowl has been replaced due to an irreparable crack in the original. Mr. Hornibrook spared no expense and the fact an 1880’s home had a “water closet” at all was unheard of when the house was built. IN fact, it had three, with hot running water!! (The original guestroom was excluded. Presumably due to the expectation the novelty might have confused his less sophisticated guests).
Complimenting the Spa amenities in this, the first in our series on luxury guestrooms, is a heated towel rack and a wonderful pale pink marble sink from the period. This “water closet” is fitted out with a romantic “slipper tub” jacuzzi. (Think the tub scene in the “Bridges of Madison County“.)
When the Hornibrook Suite was being used by Mr. Hornibrook, there was a door that opened into what was then his “sitting parlor”, a spacious room he would have retreated to in the morning or late evening before dressing formally for guests. Mrs. Hornibrook also had a “sitting parlor”. Now his parlor has been turned into The John Edward Murray Tower Room MiniSuite. Watch for The Murray Suite in an upcoming episode of The Empress Series!
While Mr. Hornibrook may have been considered a “scoundrel” during
the ReConstruction Era by his Southern neighbors, similar to Rhett Butler, he was a renouned businessman. He reportedly bought the first Edison Electric Company in Little Rock using it to provide electric for his progressive home with gas/electric fixtures, the first Edison Telephone Company, and was reported to be one of the largest commercial real estate owners in Little Rock in the 1880’s. When he died at the age of 49 in 1890, his funeral procession stretched all the way from Mt. Holly Cemetary to 18th St. You won’t want to miss the hand carved Italian desk mask on his beautiful marble tombstone as you enter the Historic Mt. Holly Cemetary, know as the Westminster Abby of Little Rock due to all the Senators, Govenors, and Little Rock elite buried there.
Each of the 5 different fourth generation descendants have visited the Empress during the 25 years of ownership by Bob and Sharon and each have shared information and stories regarding their Great Grandfather. From one of those visits we received copies of original pictures of Mr. Hornibrook and Mary Leicester Waggoner on display in his immense 18X24 ft. room above and to the left of the fireplace.
Beautiful hardwood floors give rich warmth to our luxury guestrooms, and the Hornibrook is no expection. A luxurious fluffy textured rug helps create the setting for a comfortable sitting area where you can pour yourself an after dinner aperitif from a crystal decanter before retiring, just as Hornibrook might have in 1888. Many guests describe their evenings rest as the best they’ve ever experienced, largely due to the comfortable featherbeds (which can be removed for those who are allergic). Whether it’s due to the featherbed or the magic of retiring to a bed fit for a king, the experience seems to be one of a kind and one we’re pleased to be able to share our interpretation of amazing luxury guestrooms with our guests.
If you have never visited The Empress of Little Rock at The Hornibrook mansion, we hope you will enjoy this video series on YouTube and we hope it will entice you to come take a tour or book a weekend stay with us! We have the perfect luxury guestrooms for your next romantic weekend getaway, vacation or staycation!