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The Little Mermaid at The Rep

November 25th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Not far from the Empress of Little Rock in downtown Little Rock is the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.  This world class theater features top-notch performances of some of the world’s greatest plays.  This month welcomes another amazing production of a family favorite.

From the creators of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Little Shop of Horrors, this enchanting musical features an infectious score that includes the popular songs “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl.”Adapted from the beloved fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson into one of Disney’s most popular animated films of all time, The Little Mermaid is now a lavish theatrical spectacle you won’t want to miss. Plunge into the colorful depths of an undersea wonderland as The Rep’s stage is transformed into an aquatic playground underscored by a funky Calypso beat.“A heart warming musical for the entire family,” said Bob Hupp. “From Hans Christian Anderson to Disney to The Rep, generations have fallen in love with the young mermaid who dreams of love and life on land. This musical has it all: a great story, lush designs and all the songs you sang with your kids. You’ll certainly want to make The Little Mermaid part of your world this holiday season.”

Fall in love with The Little Mermaid’s bubbly sense of wonder, romance and rollicking fun all over again.

Evening performances on Wednesday-Sunday are at 7 p.m. Matinees performances are at 2 p.m.
December 04, 2015 – January 03, 2016

Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade

November 23rd, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Break out your festive attire, get out your calendars and get into the holiday spirit; the 27th-Annual Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade, sponsored by the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau (LRCVB), will march through Little Rock on Saturday, December 5, 2015.

Serving as this year’s Grand Marshal is former NFL and Razorback running back, Peyton Hillis.

Beginning at Second and Broadway, the Holiday parade will start at 3:00 p.m. and travel south on Broadway, turn west onto Capitol Avenue and end at the State Capitol. The lighting and fireworks display will follow at dark or approximately 6 p.m.  Both events are free and open to the public.
Hillis will join Santa, Rudy the Reindeer and many more of their Legendary friends for this year’s highly anticipated holiday parade. Bring your camera and kids to watch decorated floats, marching bands, dancing troops, members of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus and more make their way through the streets of downtown Little Rock.
School marching bands and non-profit community organizations will again have the opportunity to win cash prizes as part of the parade’s float competition. The band cash prizes will be $1,000 and $500 for first and second places and $1,000, $750 and $500 for the top three winners among non-profit entries. Local guest judges will evaluate the competition and will be positioned along the parade route at an official judge’s stand.  Winners of the float and marching band competition will be posted on after the conclusion of the parade.
“We are thrilled Peyton Hillis, a Central Arkansas native and former Arkansas Razorback accepted our invitation to be this year’s Grand Marshal” Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau President & CEO Gretchen Hall said. “The Big Jingle Jubilee Holiday Parade (coupled with the lighting of the State Capitol) has become a much anticipated family tradition.  We welcome Payton and his family to lead the parade route.  We hope to see everyone come out and enjoy the floats and special guests including Santa himself.”

8th Annual Celebration of Lights

November 18th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Start (or finish) your holiday shopping at The Promenade’s 8th Annual Celebration of Lights.  Bask in the merry music and bright lights during the Promenade’s Celebration of Lights Saturday, Nov. 28 while enjoying FREE photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, musical entertainment and a special tree lighting ceremony.  Take pictures with princess and elf cutouts, (perfect for the kiddos), enjoy the hot chocolate station sponsored by the Make-a-Wish Foundation and get a free movie ticket with a donation!

You can also indulge your children’s every “Frozen” dream with a photo with the Snow Queen, Ice Princess and Olaf the Snowman.  Make sure you take advantage of the money saving coupons offered here.

All of this adds up to a magical holiday experience for everyone in the family!  Or leave the kids at home, book a night at the Empress and enjoy a holiday escape!


Coca-Cola Exhibit Comes to the Clinton Library

November 13th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

The Clinton Presidential Center will celebrate the art and history of the Coca-Cola Bottle’s 100-year anniversary during its upcoming temporary exhibit, Coca-Cola: An American Original. Opening on November 7, 2015, the exhibit is divided into two sections and will occupy both the Garden View room, located on the first floor, and the Temporary Gallery, located on the third floor.

Illustrations of an American Original will be located in the Garden View Room and will have as its focus the now-iconic images and advertising campaigns that have helped define the Coca-Cola brand. Illustrations will include three original paintings by Norman Rockwell, an American artist who created a total of six paintings that were ultimately used in finished Coca-Cola ads. The three others, known as the “Missing Rockwells,” have yet to be located. Additionally, Illustrations will feature several images of Santa Claus, including the first Coca-Cola Santa painted by Fred Mizen that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in December of 1930, as well as nine original Haddon Sundblom illustrations.

An American Original at 100 will be housed in the Temporary Gallery, bringing together historic bottle “firsts.” It will feature a 13-bottle chronology, including an original glass bottle produced in 1902, a replica of the prototype contour bottle created by the Root Glass Company in 1915, and a prototype of the aluminum bottle that debuted in 2008. Also, the exhibit will showcase pop art by Andy Warhol—including videos, photographs, prints, and other original works—and folk art by Howard Finster, who incorporated the Coca-Cola bottle into dozens of his pieces over his prolific career. Another portion of this exhibit is dedicated to American presidents and their connection to the global brand. An American Original at 100 was recently on display at the High Museum of Art Atlanta.

In addition to Illustrations of an American Original and An American Original at 100, the Center will also display a full-size antique Coca-Cola delivery truck produced in 1949 by the White Motor Company and a spectacular hanging installation comprised of more than 750 3D-printed, ribbon-shaped interpretations of the bottle’s classic shape.

Coca-Cola: An American Original is the Center’s 42nd temporary exhibit. It will close on February 15, 2016. Admission to temporary exhibits is included in the price of Library admission.

– See more at:

Traditional Holiday High Tea

November 10th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair


Join The Empress of Little Rock on Sunday, December 6th for the first annual Holiday  High Tea and Tour of the Hornibrook Mansion. Start  your holiday season in the elegant “Quapaw Quarter” with a tour of the beautiful and elegant “Hornibrook Mansion” now known as The Empress of Little Rock Bed and Breakfast, in the Quapaw Quarter section of Downtown Little Rock.  There will be magical Victorian decorations depicting the 1890’s era of the Hornibrook Mansion, known regionally as “The Grande Dame of the Ozarks” for it’s  elaborate detailed Gothic Queen Anne Architecture.  After an elegant repast of American Grand High Tea, including many refined traditions  lost to us in our modern “technological” world, a detailed history  of the family that took such pleasure in building this amazing architectural triumph and a tour and discussion of 1890’s Christmas traditions will follow.  This is a time to enjoy customs and family values that made us who we are today.  Bring your Granddaughters, yours Mothers, your Grandmothers to experience the joy of an 1880’s Christmas to begin your holiday season. Learn More…

Empress Haunting Makes Local News

October 26th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Hauntings pull tourists to state in slow October

Among ghosts’ hangouts, Crescent Hotel most-famed

Posted: October 25, 2015 at 2:21 a.m.

The owners of Empress of Little Rock at 2120 S. Louisiana St. don’t advertise the bed and breakfast as being haunted. But proprietor Sharon Welch-Blair says people still come to the Empress to look for ghosts.<br />

The owners of Empress of Little Rock at 2120 S. Louisiana St. don’t advertise the bed and breakfast as being haunted. But proprietor Sharon Welch-Blair says people still come to the Empress to look for ghosts.

It’s the Crescent Hotel’s oldest guests that draw the most business.

Bill Ott, director of marketing and communications at the Crescent Hotel, knows all the ghosts that have made the 129-year-old hotel in Eureka Springs their permanent home.

Guests and employees of the Crescent Hotel report sightings of a man jilted by his fiancee in an old ballroom; Michael, the Irish stonemason who fell to his death while helping to build the structure, now haunts Room 218; and Theodora, the patient who lived in the hotel while it was being used to scam people with cancer.

“A ghost is nothing more than somebody who’s died and hasn’t realized it yet,” Ott said.

Even cats that have lived at the hotel sometimes brush against guests who sit in the lobby chairs.

“They are Casper-esque,” Ott said. “There’s nothing bloodcurdling about our ghosts.”

Ott said the “America’s Most Haunted Hotel” markets itself mostly as a mountaintop resort and spa.

“On the other hand we have ghosts,” he said. “We let people know about that aspect if they want to know.”

A ghost tour at the Crescent Hotel costs $21.50 a person, and the 25-person quota is usually filled. The hotel does a couple of tours on weeknights and more on weekends throughout the year, Ott said.

The Crescent Hotel adds more tours in October. Ott said that by Halloween weekend, the hotel is running tours all day and pulling in thousands of dollars.

“This is far and away our best month,” he said.

Mike Maloney, director of the Eureka Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Crescent Hotel’s haunted reputation helps draw tourists to the city.

“The paranormal is very much alive in Eureka Springs,” he said. “It’s turned out to be a really interesting niche.”

Maloney said October is one of the city’s best tourism months partly because of the haunted sites in the city, including the Crescent Hotel and its sister, the Basin Hotel.

Paranormal tourism increases visitors to the state outside of the the most popular tourism months, said Joe David Rice, the state’s tourism director. He said it can be difficult to draw people to the state when they don’t have vacation time and students are in school.

“It sort of fills in a slow season,” he said. “Come around Halloween we’re always looking for new business.”

Rice said there are haunted sites across Arkansas.

“For some reason people really respond to haunted places,” he said. “It resonates with the public.”

Rice said haunted sites attract younger members of families who might not be interested in Eureka Springs’ other tourist attractions, including specialty gift shops and viewing the fall foliage.

“For the younger generations, the kids, it might be the best part of Arkansas,” Rice said.

The Empress of Little Rock, a bed and breakfast built in 1888, also capitalizes on its haunted reputation.

Sharon Welch-Blair, the hotel’s owner, said the families who lived in the house when it was a private residence sometimes pay visits to her family and guests.

James Hornibrook, a saloonkeeper who moved to Little Rock shortly after the Civil War, built the house to be the most elaborate one in Little Rock. Hornibrook lived in the $20,000 house, an extravagant expense at the time, for only two years before he was found dead at the front gate.

Asbury Fowler, an insurance agent and former federal marshal, bought the house around the turn of the century. Welch-Blair said Fowler worked for “Hanging Judge Parker.” That would be U.S District Judge Isaac Parker of the Western District of Arkansas, who in the late 1800s sentenced 160 men and women to death by hanging.

“It wouldn’t surprise me that he would haunt this house,” Welch-Blair said.

Welch-Blair and her husband restored the Empress of Little Rock with period antiques over two years. She said the first reported ghost sightings in the house came from her husband during the restoration.

“Out of the corner of his eye he saw a very dapperly dressed gentleman descending the stairs,” she said. “It’s like he was saying, ‘Save my house.'”

She said the bed and breakfast doesn’t advertise being haunted, but people still come to the Empress of Little Rock to look for ghosts.

“If people want to know, I’ll tell them about it,” she said. “It’s a sensation for those who like it.”

Rice said the state’s Department of Parks and Tourism does some advertising and provides information about places that have a haunted reputation, but most sites become popular in circles of people who are interested in the paranormal.

“Word of mouth is sort of the way things happen in this tourism business,” he said.

For the Crescent Hotel, an episode of Ghost Hunters brought tourists searching for paranormal activity to the hotel.

The Crescent Hotel opened as a luxury resort in 1886 as Eureka Springs boomed and the newly built train line brought more people to the town. In 1937, a con artist named Norman Baker opened a cancer hospital where he scammed patients and their families.

Baker’s morgue sits next to the modern spa facilities in the basement of the hotel.

In 1995, the TV show Ghost Hunters investigated Eureka Springs and caught what they claimed was a full-body apparition in the morgue.

“They referred to it as the holy grail of ghost hunting,” Rice said.

After that episode aired, ghost enthusiasts started flocking to the hotel, Ott said.

“What we are trying to do is take advantage of people’s natural curiosity of otherworldly things,” Rice said. “I don’t think anyone is trying to make a killing off of it.”

SundayMonday Business on 10/25/2015

Fall Day Trips from the Empress

October 23rd, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

fall leaves 2
The Empress of Little Rock is perfectly situated for day trips around central Arkansas, where autumn beauty abounds.
  • Take a drive to Hot Springs: Have lunch at any of the fine restaurants on Central Avenue.   Spend the afternoon shopping, antiquing or find your way to the Observation Tower to watch the leaves turn. Finish it all off with a relaxing thermal bath or massage at famous Bath House Row (Let our hospitality desk make your reservations).
  • Drive up the “Pig Trail“: Follow Hwy 7 or Hwy 23, two of the seven Scenic Highways in America, up into the foothills to enjoy the fall colors. Come back through Altus. We’ll make dinner reservations at the famous Weiderkehr Weinkeller Winery for you.
  • Day Trip to England & Scott: Tour the Agricultural Museum or visit the Marlsgate Plantation. Eat lunch at Charlottes Eats & Sweets and finish the day with an antique shopping trip at Morris Antiques.
  • Petit Jean State Park: Begin the day with a tour of the Rockefeller Antique Car Museum. Enjoy a relaxing lunch at the Country Store. Spend the afternoon with a hike to the 30 foot waterfall at Mather Lodge and end this adventure visiting the grave of Petit Jean. Take scenic Hwy 10. back to Little Rock for an enjoyable drive.
  • Venture out to Toltec Mounds Archeological Indian Dig:  Explore Toltec Mounds taking advantage of special events offered throughout the year.  Eat lunch at the Scott Country Store – home of the famous “Hubcap.”  Spend your afternoon visiting The Old Mill in N. Little Rock, the only surviving structure from the credits of “Gone With The Wind” !
  • Follow the Antique Trail in Little Rock: Start by visiting Fabulous Finds, Crystal Hill Antique Mall and Morris Antiques. Have a wonderful lunch at Scallions. Finish off your day with more antiquing in the Heights, including Potential Treasures on VanBuren Street.
  • Day of Little Rock History: Begin your day with a tour of the State Capitol and the Old State House. Eat lunch at The Arts Center or at Victorian Gardens.  Visit the Historic Arkansas Museum and  finish this off with a driving tour of the the Quapaw Quarter including Villa Marré as seen on “Designing Women”.

Big Boo!-seum Bash comes to Little Rock

October 19th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

The Empress of Little Rock loves its downtown location because of easy access to such fun events as the Big Boo!-seum Bash!  Remember that children over 6 are welcome to stay at The Empress!

Be sure to wear your costumes to the Big Boo!-seum Bash!

• Trick-or-treating
• Fun and games
• Safe and accessible for children and families


Arkansas Arts Center (partnering with the Little Rock Visitor Center at Curran Hall)

Historic Arkansas Museum

MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (partnering with the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site)

Museum of Discovery

Old State House Museum (partnering with the Arkansas State Capitol)

Witt Stephens Jr. Nature Center (partnering with the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum)

Pick up a game card for prize drawings! Each location will have game cards for visitors. Go to each participating location to get the card stamped.

Post Instagram photos while at a Boo!seum location with the hashtag #LRBooseum.

After the fun we hope you retire to the creepily elegant Empress of Little Rock, with our ghoulish innkeeper has bedecked the halls with spiderwebs, witches, broomsticks and pumpkins.  Ghosts are not guaranteed, but we can’t promise you that they won’t be present either!



Biketoberfest 2015

October 12th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Did you know that Little Rock was lauded by Bicycling Magazine as one of America’s top 50 bike-friendly cities? Among the features noted are the world’s longest pedestrian only bridge (the Big Dam Bridge) and the Junction Bridge  in downtown Little Rock, the Two Rivers Bridge in west Little Rock, the new mountain bike trails at Pinnacle Mountain State Park , and the conversion of the historic Rock Island Railroad Bridge next to the Clinton Presidential Library in downtown Little Rock.

Another bicycle-friendly option for both Little Rock and North Little Rock  is the ability to rent bikes for cruising through the downtown districts. River Trail Rentals is located on the north side but services the south shore as well, and Bobby’s Bike Hike is located in the RiverMarket.  Their rentals make bicycling an easy spur-of-the-moment pleasure.
With such a bike-friendly city, it is no wonder that events like Biketoberfest are coming to the capitol city.  Biketoberfest is Family Friendly and FREE to attend. Festivities include the Southern BMX Stunt Show, back again this year with an even bigger setup and new, exciting tricks!

Other event attractions include the judging and awards for the 2015 Rat Rod Buildoff, Adult Trike Races, Food & Lost Forty Brews!NEW This Year: A Family Fun Ride led by Major Taylor’s riding group. Meet & Greet virtually all the bicycling groups in Little Rock – from casual riders to serious competitors on Sunday, Oct 18, 2015, from noon 4:00 p.m. in the RiverMarket Pavillions.

Discover Little Rock Walking Tour

October 7th, 2015 by Sharon Welch-Blair

The Empress is proud to be a part of downtown Little Rock.  The city’s urban center is filled with exciting attractions, fun events, amazing restaurants and beautiful scenery.  So we are so glad that the Downtown Partnership is taking the opportunity to share their intimate knowledge of the area with locals and visitors alike in the Downtown Navigators Tour.
Discover downtown like never before with a streetcar and walking tour guided by the Downtown Little Rock Partnership Navigators and Rock Region METRO streetcar drivers each Saturday in October.
Each tour is approximately 90 minutes, beginning at La Petite Roche Plaza, located in Riverfront Park near the base of the Junction Bridge, and wrapping up at the President Clinton Ave. trolley stop. Comfortable shoes are encouraged.
The tours are free to the public. Tour participants receive a free streetcar day pass.  No reservations needed.
If you are as excited about the tour as we are, we invite you to stay at The Empress and make a weekend of it.  Get an insider’s look at what makes Little Rock special…and then go out that night and enjoy it all!  Rooms are still available throughout October.  Call us now to make your reservation! 501-374-7966!!!!