July 11th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair
UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS AT THE EMPRESS
Prolog: In the aftermath of the Civil War, a brilliant and adventurous young foreigner finds a beautiful young woman on the war ravaged edges of Mississippi, whose current circumstances have changed her whole outlook on life. Against all that has been holy to her family and her past, she shakes the misery of her present to shape a new life with this dashing cavalier who promises to change her future forever. But to do so, she must forever sever the ties of family, tradition, and heritage………….
This is the story of Margaret McCullough Hornibrook and James H. Hornibrook. They impacted the history of Little Rock, Arkansas, in many ways. But their lasting legacy still stands today in a home known as the Hornibrook Mansion. This story uses historical figures but takes poetic license with events of the time. While based on actual facts and dates, instances and people have been changed. 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.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS: Margaret gazed longingly over the bed at the sleeping child with her Mother. The children’s rooms looked different. Not the nursery for the female babes any longer. But her attention was all for the young child lying in the featherbed. She looked cherubic in her slumber. It tugged at her heart and reminded her of those early days…………………
Dairy Entry: April 12, 1865; Desoto, Mississippi
News reached us today of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. While I am elated it is over, the devastation of our crops, the loss of our slaves, the joyless look in the eyes of Mama and Papa leaves me with little joy over the event. Our outlook is almost as bleak today as the day Vicksburg fell. We are left occupied by these Yankee dogs; hungry, vulnerable, without any real law. I am so weary of all this misery. I am weary of having no lovely clothes to wear, or parties to go to. But at least I have managed to save some of my clothes, unlike my friend Auphie Willet, whose family had their house ravaged by the troops staying at their plantation. I look in the mirror. Although my clothes hang some due to our meager diet, my skin is still fair; my dark auburn hair has managed to maintain it’s luster with the use of a vinegar rinse- the Yankees weren’t interested in vinegar! At least we have an early spring and the trees are bright green with new birth. It gives me hope. Papa calls. A stranger has ridden down our tree lined lane.
July 9th, 2012 by Lisa
The annual Empress of Little Rock 4th of July Brunch was a huge hit this year! Friends, neighbors and guests joined Bob and Sharon on the Empress grounds for food and fun. The Downtown Neighborhood Association joined the party this year, bringing with them a special treat: Mimosas for everyone! (or at least everyone of age) Everyone else brought a delicious breakfast recipe to share potluck style and enjoyed a picnic style gathering in the plazas and gardens of The Empress. We already can’t wait to do it again next year!
June 17th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair
Romance under the Fireworks on the Arkansas River, July 4th
Don’t miss the riproaring “old fashioned” fun at The Empress this Fourth of July! We’ll start the day with a unique neighborhood breakfast picnic where everyone brings a dish to share. This year the Downtown Neighborhood Association will provide Mimosas. There’ll be lots of old fashioned conversation and sharing before everyone heads out to do the things people do on our country’s birthday. But the fun won’t end there for guests; the Clinton Library will have free entrance and The 2011 World Series Trophy will be on display in the Library’s exhibit Play Ball! The St. Louis Cardials. FREE professional photographs will be taken with the Trophy from 9:30-2:30. Schedule and ticket information about photographs with the Trophy available http://www.clintonlibrary.gov/free- . In the evening, head out to the River for the Arkansas Symphony POPS presentation. Afterwards the sky will light up with the best fireworks display in Arkansas, all beside the Arkansas River. Bring your blanket, spread it out and enjoy!! Don’t miss an opportunity to enjoy a fun day of nostalgia and a great night at Arkansas’ award winning bed and breakfast, The Empress of Little Rock!!
June 17th, 2012 by Lisa
We want to thank all of our guests for making our “2012 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence” award possible! We continually strive for excellence and are so glad that our guests go away saying “we knew it would be good, but it was so much better than we expected”. The Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence awards hospitality excellence. This exclusive accolade is given only to establishments that consistently receive outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Approximately 10% of all accommodations listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.
We hope guests both returning and first-time come to enjoy the amenities that make The Empress deserving of the title “Excellent”.
May 31st, 2012 by Lisa
AY Magazine published their annual “Best of The Best” edition in May. The magazine polls Arkansans, asking for their favorites in areas ranging from medical care to nightlife. Here at The Empress, the category we are most interested in is, of course, best Bed and Breakfast. And the winner of this prestigious award? Once again it is The Empress of Little Rock!!! Other Bed and Breakfasts receiving runner-up rewards this year were The 1890 Williams House Inn and Lookout Pointe Inn, both in Hot Springs.
We would like to congratulate these and other winners in categories such as favorite restaurant, shopping center and bank. And thank you to all of the AY Magazine readers who voted for The Empress as Arkansas’ Best Bed and Breakfast!
See a digital copy of the “Best of the Best” issue at:
May 25th, 2012 by Lisa
This Memorial Day Weekend, The Empress invites you to come to Little Rock and join us for Riverfest, Arkansas’ largest arts and music festival. To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the event, Riverfest, along with Bruce Cochran and Custom Beverage, will host a wine tasting event and art auction on Thursday, May 24th in the River Market Pavilions from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Bruce Cochran has selected an outstanding array of boutique wines from over 30 wineries. The selection includes a variety of whites and reds that hail from many different wine-producing regions – from Washington State to Napa Valley to Italy to the Pacific Rim, and even a couple of home-grown Arkansas wines.
The music festival this year includes billboard acts from the past and present including Lynard Skynard, Boyz II Men, Little Big Town, Third Eye Blind, Snoop Dogg and B.o.B. Also featured are local favorites such as Brown Soul Shoes and Benjamin Del Shreve.
The Empress offers a special package to those coming to town to enjoy the music, the fun and the fireworks (the Osborne Family Fireworks are always an amazing show).
- Three nights in the room of your choice (Rates vary by room)
- Three gourmet two course breakfasts by candlelight
- Three Day Pass to Riverfest
- Registration to the Rock-N-Stroll 5K (registration required by Friday, May 27th for T Shirt)
- Fireworks and Symphony Preformance on the Grounds Sunday, May 29th
- All the rest and relaxation after the Events you need in the gardens or the porch swing at The Empress
Rates start at $197/person to $387/person based on choice of room; Tax and gratuity not included. Subject to availability
(Not responsible for cancellation of any events at Riverfest for any reason).
Call The Empress at 501-374-7966 to make your reservations today!!!
May 14th, 2012 by Assistant Innkeeper
Mother’s Day High Tea was one of the events going on in the Quapaw Quarter this weekend, but it was the only one devoted to Mom! Each Mom received a rose following a time-honored tradition: red if living, white if not. Guests were entertained by a musical presention that brought a tear to the eye of several mothers. “Think of Me,” from Phantom of the Opera was performed by Jena Blair, Sharon’s granddaughter. The highlight was a recitation from a May 30, 1909, article from the New York Times describing the country cousin who drank from his “finger bowl”, not understanding the quintessential and legendary use of the finger bowl for cleansing dainty fingers. Guests had a good chuckle and sampled the custom for themselves. Lots of tea, scones, and clotted cream, not to mention specialty sandwiches and tradtional English desserts, whetted the palate of male and female guests alike.
Channel 11 heartily agreed and aired a lovely segment on the news highlighting a romantic experience and past traditions, all designed to make Mom’s day very special and unique. We hope you all enjoy reading about the event and seeing the video to follow from Channel 11. Catch us again next year.
April 16th, 2012 by Lisa
It is architectural week, and the folks over at bnbfinder.com thought that they would recognize several Inns of outstanding architecture, including The Empress. The article raved, “If you’re looking for quintessential ornate Victorian architecture, check out The Empress of Little Rock Small Luxury Hotel and Conference Center located in Little Rock, AR. Designed by Max Orlopp and Casper Kusener, it was completed in 1888 and is listed on the National register of Historic Places. The mansion is considered one of the most important, existing examples of Gothic Queen Anne design in Arkansas with its divided stairway, stain glass skylight, octagonal shaped rooms and 3 ½ story corner tower.”
Check out the whole article here.
March 26th, 2012 by Lisa
Looking for a great, unusual, casual place for lunch during your stay at The Empress? Look no further than the famous hot dog stand of Hot Dog Mike. You will have to look up his location on facebook, twitter or www.hotdogmike.com, but finding him is well worth the effort. Try the woopighotdog for an tasty change from the normal hot dog. Or if you like the normal hot dog, the basicallydeliciousdog is just what you were looking for.
With his fedora atop his head and thick, Elvis Costello-style black-framed glasses on his face, Hot Dog Mike is the perfect host as he slings dogs in his custom made tshirt (which you will want)! You won’t be disappointed, and you will leave so full your fluffy bed at The Empress will be the perfect spot for the afternoon!