Tour Guide Linda Howell presents “Haunted Little Rock”

October 10th, 2012 by Lisa

The Haunted America division of The History Press has recently released “Haunted Little Rock”, a book by Little Rock’s own Linda L. Howell.  The book provides pictures, stories and eyewitness accounts of reported “hauntings” in Little Rock.  Included in the book are tales of such landmarks as Mount Holly Cemetery, Robinson Center Music Hall, Reed’s Bridge and of course, The Empress of Little Rock.

Both history and eyewitness “sightings” are detailed in the book to give readers a fun and educational read.  Did you know that Curran Hall once had a “guardian” cat named Scout whose supposed job it was to protect the premises?  Have you heard the ghost exercising in the employee workout room in Little Rock City Hall?  Several employees say that they have.    Have you seen the grave of the Indian Woman “Elizabeth” in Mount Holly Cemetery?  If so, did you know that her body isn’t really there?  The marker was moved there by request of Albert Pike, but her body is still buried somewhere on the North Little Rock side of the river.

These stories and more will entertain and enlighten you as your read more about The Empress of Little Rock and other purportedly haunted spots in Little Rock in Linda’s book, available for purchase in The Empress gift shop.  We love the beautiful picture of The Empress on the cover!  You can also join Linda for Haunted Tours of Little Rock, every Friday night in October!!!  During the tour, Linda takes you to several of the Haunted spots in her book, starting at MacArthur Museum and entering The Empress for a view of our tower card room.  It is a frighteningly fun night for all!

Haunted History Makes for Eerily Awesome Tour!

September 25th, 2012 by Lisa

According to its website, “It is the objective of Haunted Tours of Little Rock to show you places located in the city’s Historic District, The Quapaw Quarter, where our prominent citizens once lived…….and some still do.” The Empress is proud to be a part of the tour, which takes you into the Hornibrook Mansion and up to the “haunted card room”, where you might be lucky enough to play a hand with Mr. Hornibrook.  The tour also takes it’s guests to such spookily familiar places as The Arsenal at MacArthur Park, Curran Hall, The Hanger House and Mt. Holly Cemetery.

The tour will run at 7pm on Friday nights through September and October.  If you can’t make the ghost tour, join The Empress for our regularly scheduled tour, offered every day at 11:30 and 3:00.  The cost is $7.50 and includes a tour of all three floors of The Empress of Little Rock  and an overview of its history.

So You Want More French Connection…

September 19th, 2012 by Lisa

Have you seen our Petit Jean room?  This beautiful room is decorated in navy blue, gold, white and a nautical theme is present throughout.  The room is named after Arkansas’ State Park- Mount Petit Jean, and it’s namesake.  Check out the romantic maritime accessories in one of our guests favorite rooms!

Do you know the legend of Petit Jean that inspires this Arkansas/French connection?  According to legend, Petit Jean was actually a young 18th century French woman. When she discovered that her fiance had been ordered to Captain one of three ships dispatched  to explore the newly acquired French possesion in the new world we now recognize as the Louisiana Territory, she cut her hair, disguised herself,  and secured a position as the cabin boy.  She survived the voyage.  Their two year expedition up the Mississippi and the Arkansas Rivers began their exploration.  They reached the lone escarpment jutting out over the Arkansas River just as winter approached.  Finding friendly indians who had never seen a white man, they chose to winter there.  Near the end of a brutal winter, the young woman fell ill with fever.  On her deathbed, she revealed herself to her fiance as his beloved.  She is buried on the mountain overlooking the scenic Arkansas River Valley to the East, not under her own name, but under the name she had been known by on the ship, “Petit Jean”– little John.  Below is a picture of “Petit Jean’s” grave……a cairn found atop Petit Jean Mountain.  In the early evening breeze, some say they can hear “Petit Jean” calling to her lover.  It bespeaks the strength and courage required to leave home and family to follow her destiny and garnered her a revered spot in the “legend” of our guestrooms, one of the favorites.

La Partie Deux de la Connexion Française

September 12th, 2012 by Lisa

That says the French Connection Part Two~and that is exactly what this is!  Last week we showed you our amazing Parisian fountain/statue and its equally impressive Parisian cousin.  This week our focus in the French Connection is Hemingway!   Did you know Ernest Hemingway’s second wife was from Arkansas? The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott, Arkansas, includes a barn-studio associated with Ernest Hemingway and the family home of his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer.  Pauline’s parents, Paul and Mary Pfeiffer, were prominent citizens of Northeast Arkansas and owned more than 60,000 acres of land.  During the 1930s, the barn was converted to a studio to give Hemingway privacy for writing while visiting Piggott.  Portions of one of his most famous novels, A Farewell to Arms, and several short stories were written in this studio.  As an ode to this famous Pseudo-Arkansan, we have created our popular “Hemingway Spa Suite” which is decorated in a masculine yet stylish way as befits Hemingway……and all of our guests searching for daring, decadence, and romance!

Jacuzzi Tub in The Hemingway Spa Suite

The Luxurious Hemingway Spa Suite

So what is the French Connection?  Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley,  arrived in Paris on December 22, 1921 and a few weeks later moved into their first apartment at 74 rue Cardinal Lemoine. It was a miserable apartment with no running water and a bathroom that was basically a closet with a slop jar inside. Here is a picture that Sharon took of the building while she was in Paris…

Heminway’s Parisian Abode.

 

 

The French Connection

September 5th, 2012 by Lisa

A Gothic Queen Anne Structure with Queen Victoria presiding over the Dining Table seems about as British as they come…but The Empress has a more diverse European flair than you may at first think.  Bob Blair and Sharon Welch-Blair, owners of the Empress, are currently touring France; so we thought now would be a perfect time to focus on The French Connection at The Empress of Little Rock!!!

Pictured here is our incredible eight foot, 1870’s sculpture, which came directly from a Paris street where it served Parisians water for many years.  Now it servesThe Empress and our guests, not water, but with a beautiful view.

 

 

And here is our statue’s present day Parisian counterpart.  Sharon snapped a picture of this beauty still in use on the streets of Paris!  This one is cast iron and made in 1923. Water was pouring in a steady stream out of the top.

 

Coffee and Tea Break

August 17th, 2012 by Lisa

For most of the United States, the morning or afternoon break is not often referred to as tea as the beverage has not traditionally been a widespread choice with Americans. The term coffee break is used instead to denote a morning or afternoon break from work, or social gathering for a snack and short downtime, where hot and cold beverages and cakes, breads, and pastries are sometimes consumed.

The term “high tea” is also used in the United States to refer to afternoon tea or the “tea party,” a very formal, ritualised gathering in which tea, thin sandwiches and little cakes are served on the best china. This usage is an analogical construction, the term “high” being associated with social formality (rather than a “high,” or main, table).

This afternoon tea is increasingly served in high-end American hotels, and at a rising number of big-city teahouses, where it is sometimes described as “afternoon tea.” The term “tea party” is still occasionally used in the U.S., either for a special occasion or in honor of a visiting celebrity or guest.

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/tea#ixzz1QUojlBxJ

Razorback Tailgating Package!

August 15th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Get out your big foam fingers, your noisemakers, your red and white pom poms…limber up your lungs for a few rounds of Wooo Pig Sooie, it’s Razorback Game Time!!!  The Hogs are coming to Little Rock on Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 6pm.  As always, tailgating at War Memorial will be a high point of the weekend and Razorback fans will be out in full force!  So pack your bags with your favorite gameday outfit and head to The Empress, we will send you to the game in style by adding our Champagne Picnic!  A tailgating picnic to beat them all, it will include: crusty bread, gourmet cheeses, decadent pate, luscious fruit, indulgent desserts and tasty condiments.  We just hope you can stop eating for long enough to call the Hogs!

Feline Concierge Part of The Empress’ Charm.

August 1st, 2012 by Lisa

The Empress of Little Rock is known for the friendliness and hospitality of our owners and Innkeepers, but many guests also become acquainted with our mascot, Lovie Dovie.  Dovie is known for her “Southern hospitality.” She will sometimes escort guests from the guest parking lot to the back porch door, where she waits “patiently” to take them around to the front door to enter into the inn. She will then most times flop down  and let them pet and love on her.

Dovie is a Tortoiseshell cat. “Torties” are named for their distinctive coloring (a combination of patches of black, brown, amber, red, cinnamon and chocolate.)  An interesting fact, is that Torties are almost exclusively female. A very unique thing about Dovie – she is a polydactyl cat (“Hemingway” or “Mittens” cat.)  While most cats have 18 toes (five on each front foot and four on the rear), polydacts have six or more toes on the front feet, and sometimes an extra toe on the rear. We knew Dovie was special!

She will also try to talk guests into letting her come into the inn.  She will look up at them with her sweet, innocent little eyes, meow and just know that they will do what she wants. The thing is, she knows that she is not supposed to come into the inn. She is counting on the “kindness of strangers.”  A typical Tortie, she is quite talker, displaying that famous “tortitude!”

We hope everyone will come visit us and Dovie at some time in the future!

 

Upstairs, Downstair At The Empress; Episode 3

July 29th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair

The card room in the Tower of The Empress

Dairy Entry-Margaret McCullough:  April 13, 1865  :

The stranger was very dashing.  About the best dressed I’ve seen in these parts since the beginning of this awful war.  His horse was fine. He was dressed as a gentleman, something we haven’t seen for quite a while, and he came from Memphis.  He wanted Papa to sell his lumber.  Papa took an immediate dislike to him-he thinks he’s another Yankee carpetbagger.  But he had a way about him.  Papa told him to leave, but after he left, I heard him talking to Mama about our timber.  I can tell he’s worried we’re going to lose the farm.  I hid under the stairs near the library so I could eavesdrop; at least till Mammy JoJo caught me.  I’ve never heard Papa talk with such fear in his voice.  Mama said perhaps we should consider talking to him further.  I watched him as he rode back down the lane.  He glanced back and tipped his hat.  He knew I was watching him.  Yes, he definitely has a way about him.  I wonder if I’ll see him again.

Judd whistled an Irish ditty as he mopped his brow and rode back towards town. While he didn’t get nearly as warm a reception as he hoped, offering salvation in the way of cash for timber, he had a pretty good feeling he’d at least do business with some of the locals.  With the raising of the property taxes, they were desperate for funds and the pressure was on all the old landowners to come up with resources they mostly didn’t have.   While it was a fair price, the ability to get the lumber where it was needed would make him a good profit.  And he was just a little intrigued by the auburn headed daughter of the McCullough Plantation.  She stood out from the devastation like a diamond in the rough.  He was captivated by her green eyes and ivory skin.  Even as the locals had moved into the fields, somehow that Mammy had managed to keep her wards looking pale and fine.  Quite a trick in light of how they must be groveling to make ends meet right now.

Margaret snapped back to the present as the woman next to the child stirred in the bed.  It was as if she sensed she was there.  For a moment she was ashamed, feeling like a voyeur, yet the deep longing to be close to the child, to feel a connection to something she had long since lost forced the feelings back.  But, alas, the connection was broken, and she slipped back upstairs to the one place that offered continuous comfort……….

 

This in no way should be considered an accurate rendering of facts by anyone, but an exciting journey into the world of an incredible period in our history. It is collaboration by a Grandmother and a Granddaughter fascinated by the events of that time and the lessons to be learned from their history. Please enjoy the saga.

 

Upstairs, Downstairs at The Empress Episode 2: James H. Hornibrook

July 19th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair

James H. Hornibrook, Judd as his brothers called him to distinguish him from his Father and his Grandfather, sat easily in the saddle.  He was a tall man, hailing from strong Scots Irish stock.  He’d inherited his dark handsome features from his Father’s side.  He’d gotten his canny sense of business from his Mother’s side.  This venture with his brother, Hamilton, was a risk.  But at 26, he’d been ready for a challenge and the opportunities presented by this war were too alluring to pass up.  He and Hammy had marshaled their resources, with a small stake from their merchant Father, and come south from Toronto.  They’d landed in Memphis, sensing the opportunities.    While the war had just ended in the East, it had been over for some time in the west.

And opportunities there were!  The whole area was still under martial law.  Martial lawless was a better description.  The locals were mired in a quicksand of corruption. Trying to recover under the watchful eye of the local Union Commander and their handpicked “governors” was a bit like letting the fox in the hen house.  He’d easily struck up a good relationship.  He had a way about him.  He was skilled with people and knew it.  While it hampered his dealings with the Southerners, it was the price of doing business.

Reconstruction they called it.  It was hard to see how they expected any reconstruction to take place.  But it opened the door if you had money.  And they liked the color of his Canadian money!  Lumber-that’s where the opportunity lay.  If he could get the southern land owners to sell their lumber cheap, he could make a fortune.  And a fortune was his goal.  And it shouldn’t take long in this environment to do it!!

This in no way should be considered an accurate rendering of facts by anyone, but an exciting journey into the world of an incredible period in our history. It is collaboration by a Grandmother and a Granddaughter fascinated by the events of that time and the lessons to be learned from their history. Please enjoy the saga.