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.

 

Upstairs, Downtstairs at The Empress Episode 1: The Journey Begins

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Big Fun on the 4th!!!

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!

Old Fashioned 4th of JULY Fun at The Empress

June 17th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Fireworks at the Fourth of July on the Arkansas River

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!!

 

The Empress Recevies Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence!

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”.

The Empress is Once Again “Best of the Best”

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:

http://issuu.com/laurenhampton/docs/aymagazine-may-2012/74?mode=window&backgroundColor=%23222222

The Place to Stay on Memorial Day!

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).

Package includes:

  • 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!!!