Archive for the ‘Cultural Activities & Events’ Category

Cooking Classes at Eggshells

August 27th, 2013 by Lisa

diver scallops at eggshellsLooking for something unique and interesting to do in Little Rock?  How about a cooking class at Eggshells Kitchen Company?  The very best local chefs come into Eggshells to teach you how to make a signature dish of theirs.  Recent classes included a fresh pasta class with Scott McGehee, restaurateur of Zaza, Big Orange, and Local Lime and a chicken and dumplings class from Matt Bell of the fabulous new South on Main.

The next class available is on September 9th at 6pm and sounds like a deliciously-fun good time! John Masching of 1620 Savoy will be teaching participants how to make his mouth-watering diver scallops with Sofrito, Jalapeno, Oyster Mushroom, Asparagus, Hollandaise Sauce and Bacon Lardons.  Sounds just divine, right?

You will be offered a glass of wine with this class and all the free water you can drink.  You are also welcome to bring any beverage you wish to enjoy during your lesson and the subsequent eating frenzy.

You can sign up for the class at Eggshell’s Website and the cost is $50 per person. Why not combine a great nights getaway with your favorite guestroom at The Empress?  Call us for all the room details and other great ideas to make this a really special getaway!  501-374-7966.

 

Art Exhibits, Fashion Exhibits, Little Rock has a bit of it all Exhibits!

July 16th, 2013 by Lisa

little rock skyline for blog

If you are thinking that there isn’t enough to-do in Little Rock for a weekend getaway…think again!  Here are just a few of the exhibits that will be in town this month:

1) “How People Make Things” at the Museum of Discovery”-this exhibit was inspired by the factory tour segments from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and offers hands on activities using real factory tools and machines to create objects with four manufacturing processes: molding, cutting, deforming and assembly.  Dress up in coveralls, lab coats, aprons, safety glasses, boots and hardhats to become a factory technician, worker or supervisor.  You can also use a die cutter, operate a mill to carve a block of wax, assemble golf cart parts, mold pourable wax or play a matching came where audio clues and stories help you match a person to the object they make.  This exhibit runs through September 22.

2) “Oscar de la Renta: American Icon”- This is an original exhibit curated especially for the Clinton Center.  Trace the fashion evolution and inspiration of Oscar de la Renta from the Dominican Republic, Spain, France and the United States.  The exhibit will feature more than 30 of de la Renta’s iconic creations worn by style leader ranging from First Ladies to Hollywood stars.  Runs through December 1.

3)”Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London”- this special exhibition showcases 48 masterpieces from the collection known as the Iveagh Bequest.  These paintings reside at Kenwood House, a neoclassical villa in London.  This exhibit is a unique opportunity to view these paintings, many of which have never before traveled to the United States and are rarely seen outside of Kenwood House.  Can be seen at The Arkansas Arts Center through September 8.

4) “Lights! Camera! Arkansas!”- an exhibit featuring the state’s ties to Hollywood, through both movies and television.  There are artifacts related to films shot on location in the state, actors born in Arkansas and literary figures whose works were the basis for films shot in Arkansas.  Five galleries exhibit costumes, scripts, film footage, awards, photographs, theatre posters and props.  The cast of the exhibition includes Mary Steenburgen, Harry Thomason, Julie Adams, Lisa Blount, Johnny Cash, Gail Davis, Levon Helm, James Bridges, Jeff Nichols and Joey Lauren Adams among others.  Runs through March of 2015 at the Old State House Museum.

And don’t forget the Empress, an exhibit of Victorian living at its finest!  There are daily tours at 11:30 and 3:30, high teas and of course: overnight stays in all of our luxurious bed and breakfast rooms!

 

“Christmas in The Quarter” offers an inside look at Historic Homes for the Holidays!

November 27th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair

victorian teapot christmas ornament

Step back a couple of centuries without leaving Little Rock during Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church’s 9th Annual Christmas in the Quarter holiday tour of homes from 2-6 p.m. in the Quapaw Quarter of downtown Little Rock on Sunday, December 9. The holiday event raises funds for Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church and its missions and gives guests a glimpse into five 19th century homes while savoring the tastes, sights, sounds and scents of the holidays.

Guests will tour the holiday-decorated homes, learn a bit about the history of each, and enjoy appetizers, beverages and live music, including strolling minstrels singing carols as well as piano, organ and trumpet instrumentals. Guests can walk from home to home or take one of two trolleys, which will drop off and pick up participants at each home throughout the event.

The tour will begin and end at the church where guests can sit in peace and fellowship in its Gothic Revival architecture, peruse and purchase artwork by artists using studio space in the church, and relish holiday refreshments. The homes include:

Quapaw Quarter UMCDesigned by Charles L. Thompson and Thomas Harding, Jr., Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built between1921 and 1926, it features a Gothic Revival style with Queen Anne characteristics. Considered one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the southwest, the sanctuary still retains its original features and furnishings, including four plaster angels—unusual for Methodist churches of the time. The sanctuary features more than 50 individual stained-glass windows and a large Gothic Triptych window, all crafted of intricately assembled Tiffany-style stained glass, depicting biblical persons and liturgical symbols. The original cork tile floor is an early example of green design. Overhead, Gothic openwork trusses provide both decoration and structural support for the roof. Please ask about the little pew that was dedicated to Mrs. Eliza Lillis whose husband died of injuries suffered during the Civil War. Her story is a true inspiration.

Pollock HouseThe Pollock House at 914 Scott Street was constructed circa 1874 by Samuel E. Mandelbaum—the owner of a cigar and tobacco shop on Main Street— for his daughter, Annie Mandelbaum Pollock, following her marriage to Mr. Meyer Pollock. In addition, Mr. Mandelbaum built a home at 908 Scott Street for another daughter, Clara Mandelbaum Pfeifer, and also one for himself at 920 Scott Street. The Pollock House has remained in the family ever since, and it is now owned and occupied by descendant Mary Bray Kelley and her husband, Dick Kelley. The exterior has been restored to its original beauty and architectural style, and the interior rehabilitation was equally profound, making the home an important historic residence in Little Rock.

Villa MarreThe Villa Marre at 1321 Scott Street was built in 1881 by Angelo Marre, a successful saloonkeeper in Little Rock. The home was the first post-Civil War residence to be rehabilitated in the city. In 1964, preservationist James Strawn purchased and restored the home, later donating it to the Quapaw Quarter Association. It remained a social rental and tour house until it was sold as a private residence in 2002. Except for its mansard roof, a feature associated with the Second Empire style, the home is predominately Italianate. Its imposing three-story tower and original slate roof are features that make the house architecturally significant. The Villa Marre became a popular icon as the Sugarbaker House on Designing Women, and its distinctive architecture made it a trademark of the successful television show in the 1980s and 1990s. The home is currently available as an event center.

Xenophon Overton Pindall HouseThe Xenophon Overton Pindall House at 2000 Arch Street served as the Governor’s Mansion from May 15, 1907 until January 11, 1909. While acting governor, Pindall served as a member of the State Penitentiary Board, made numerous visits to the convict farms, and authorized an investigation and report of conditions. His actions are credited with starting a chain of events that brought about the abolition of the convict lease system some years later. Constructed in the Tudor style with some Craftsman features, homes like the Pindall House originated in the United States with plans and concepts published in furniture maker and designer Gustav Stickley’s The Craftsman magazine. His ideas spread, and the term Craftsman eventually identified any house built with his principles in mind. Jill Judy and Mark Brown now own and occupy the home.

John H. Martin HouseConstructed in 1902, the John H. Martin House at 2107 Arch Street was designed in the Colonial Revival style, which became popular after the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia created a feeling of nostalgia about the American home. Homebuilders and architects turned to early American houses as inspiration for new, more dramatic houses appropriate to the booming economic times. Colonial Revival houses were first built in the late 19th century, in the shadow of the Victorian era. Colonial Revival grew in reaction to Victorian excesses, focusing on simpler, more traditional layouts and façades. The style took hold quickly and became one of the country’s longest-lived architectural forms, with countless versions being built even today. Ashley and Chap Williams are the current owners and residents of the home.

Shelby England HouseThe Shelby England House at 2121 Arch Street was constructed circa 1910 and has been totally restored to perfection. The large sweeping foyer has a grand staircase and huge stained-glass window. Designed by architect Charles L. Thompson in Colonial Revival and Prairie School styles with some elements of Craftsman style incorporated, the England House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is included in the Governor’s Mansion Historic District. The house sits unobtrusively on the streetscape thus giving it a sense of privacy nicely reinforced by the low brick walls that surround the porch. The England House is a fine example of the diversity of architect Thompson’s work. Brandi and John Collins own and live in the England House today.

 

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.

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.

 

Mother’s Day High Tea Highlighted on Channel 11

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.

 

The Miracle Worker comes to The Weekend Theater

March 19th, 2012 by Lisa

Are you staying the upcoming weekend at The Empress and looking for a bit of extra entertainment?  How about going to The Weekend Theater

For those who enjoy the magical world of live theater, The Weekend Theater is a unique black-box theater at the corner of 7th and Chester Streets in Little Rock, Arkansas. The audience can enjoy the intimacy of the small theater in a wonderful, comfortably remodeled theater House with a new stage lighting system to bring The Weekend Theater productions to life. The Weekend Theater is decidedly New York in character – apartments upstairs, theater downstairs, pizza joint/microbrewery across one street, and the local fire station across the other!

Currently playing at The Weekend Theater isThe Miracle Worker By William Gibson.  The show finishes up it’s run on March 23, 24.

One determined person can make a world of difference, even save a life – and if you’ve ever doubted that, then William Gibson’s classic play “The Miracle Worker” will convince you otherwise. It is the story of how teacher Annie Sullivan opened up the world of blind, deaf, and mute Helen Keller.  Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through March 24.  Tickets, $16 for general admission and $12 for students and seniors age 65 and older, can be ordered online at the theater’s Web site, www.weekendtheater.org, or purchased at the door before each performance, based on availability. Reservations are no longer taken by phone, but you can get more information about this show and upcoming events by calling (501) 374-3761.

The Rep Welcomes you to Girls Night Out!

March 7th, 2012 by Lisa

Need something to do while staying at the award-winning Empress of Little Rock?  If soaking in your jacuzzi tub or sitting in our gardens is too relaxing…the Rep offers ladies some excitement!

On March 29, 2012, from 5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m., enjoy wine, lite bites and shopping in The Rep’s Main Lobby and Foster’s Bar.  This is followed by The Wiz on the Rep’s Mainstage at 7:00 p.m.

Arkansas Repertory Theatre hosts Girls Night Out at The Rep featuring chic fashions, shoes and accessories from N’chole Ferorce, Vogue Visage, Princess Breeze Boutique, Scentsy and DSW. Thursday, March 29 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. shop some of the latest spring fashions then at 7:00 p.m. watch see the cast ease on down the road in the musical The Wiz on The Rep’s Mainstage.

Explore two floors of clothing, shoes and accessories at Girls Night Out at The Rep while listening to the soulful jazz melodies of Rodney Block. Enjoy lite bites and delectable desserts from Brown Sugar Bakery. The first 100 ladies at Girls Night Out will receive an exclusive gift bag and receive one voucher for a free drink in The Rep’s new bar, Foster’s.

Call The Rep Box Office for tickets to Girls Night out at (501) 378-0405.