Archive for the ‘The Empress of Little Rock’ Category

April Showers brought May Flowers!!!!!

May 7th, 2013 by Lisa

They are here, they are here, they are finally here!  A stroll through the Empress gardens is now a must do event, as Spring flowers are in full bloom.  Every corner you turn brings a new assault of beauty to your eyes (and often your nose) as flowers bloom on bushes, in planters, in beds, around swings and climbing up columns.  The exciting thing is, there are many more to come.  Our fig tree is just now putting out leaves and will soon provide fresh fruit for breakfast.  I am impatiently awaiting the hydrangeas, as they are my absolute favorites!  But in the meantime, there is so much to see that my daily stroll through the gardens is the very best part of the work day.

fountain and flowerssign and flowerspink flowers and steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rose close upfence flowersred flowers

 

Spring is finally Springing!!!

March 28th, 2013 by Lisa

Great Outdoor Adventure at the Big Dam Bridge, Little Rock, Arkansas

a beautiful sunset on The Big Dam Bridge

Whew! I thought Spring would never get here…now I know not to trust that groundhog ever again!  With warm weather finally coming to Arkansas, some of our packages that include outdoor elements are becoming VERY popular.

Our Great Outdoors Package includes biking, hiking, picnicing and massages (sounds like a perfect weekend to me).  We include bike rental for the RiverTrail, an amazing  trail that is crowned by the Big Dam Bridge, the U.S.’s longest pedestrian only bridge.  Then we direct you to Pinnacle Mountain for a lazy hike by the Little Maumelle River on the Kingfisher Trail, or a more strenuous climb up the mountain on the East Summit Trail.  We provide you with a champagne picnic for one of your excursions, and granola and bottled water for the other.  Relax afterwards with a massage in the privacy of your room…a perfect weekend!!!riverfest logo

Memorial Day and Riverfest are also coming up very quickly!!!  If you haven’t already made plans to come into Little Rock for Riverfest, do it now!  There is no better place in Arkansas to be that weekend than at it’s largest outdoor music and food festival.

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

A High Tea for The Most Special of Ladies…

March 20th, 2013 by Sharon Welch-Blair

teacupsBecause we think Mom is so special, The Empress is throwing a party just for her on Mother’s Day!  Join us for a Grand High Tea with home made English Scones, clotted cream and lemon curd, dainty gourmet finger sandwiches, elegant desserts, and specialty tea all freshly prepared and served with Victorian Pomp and Circumstance.  Finish with our specialty hand-dipped chocolate covered cherries.

Converted in 1995 to The Empress of Little Rock Small Luxury Hotel and Conference Center, the mansion has an amazing history…which we will happily share with you!  Step back in the past for an hour of genteel tea and good company during which your hostess will introduce you to the Victorian beginnings of The Empress!  So don your gloves and wear your hat.  This is an occasion to celebrate, share with your Mom, and remember

Join The Empress and P. Allen Smith for an Unforgettable Weekend!

March 6th, 2013 by Lisa

daffodil tourP. Allen Smith is an award-winning designer and lifestyle expert, AND host of two public television program, “P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home”, “P. Allen Smith’s Garden to Table” and the syndicated 30-minute show “P. Allen Smith Gardens”  His Garden Home, located at Moss Mountain Farm, is offering Open Tours throughout the year.  Through the month of March, he will present his beautiful daffodil gardens.  All tours include a lunch and a guided tour of the house, gardens and farm.

Join P.Allen Smith and The Empress for an unforgettable weekend. This special package includes a two night stay at The Empress of Little Rock, 20% off of a carriage ride through Little Rock’s Quapaw Quarter Historic District and a bottle of champagne! Add a 3rd night for only $79.00!

 

 Daffodil Tours:

March 7, 2013

March 8, 2013

March 14, 2013

March 15, 2013

March 21, 2013

March 22, 2013

March 28, 2013

Menu Posted for the New Year’s Eve “Downtown” Abbey Wine Dinner Dance

December 30th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair

Dining room,The Empress of Little Rock

Dining in Elegance, a lost art.

It’s a “Downtown” Abbey experience for this New Year’s Eve at The Empress of Little Rock.  Guests will be “introduced” and offered their first wine pairing, a glass of Russian River Valley, “J” Vineyards and Wineries- “Pinot Gris” 2011, while enjoying the lilting sounds from the 1870 Steinway piano sporting a very rare African Mahogany soundboard.  Gone are the days when elegant clothes, butlers, ladies maids, fine silver, crystal, china, and  international “reparte`” are served for dinner.  But that opportunity still exists at The Empress of Little Rock where handmade Victorian mementos are on the menu along with fine food and wine.                                                                                                      le menu

The Salad Course: Hearts of Romaine with Blackberries, Goat Cheese, Toasted Almond Croutons and Classic Garlic Vinagrette.

The Soup/Palette Cleanser : Apple “Cider” Soup -Wine Pairing: Russian River Valley,”J” Vinyard and Winery, “Pinot Gris”,2011

The Main Course: Fig and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Pork Loin; Acorn Squash Rings with Anisette Wild Rise; Asparagus with Hollandaise

Wine Pairing-Cru Beaujolais Morgon, Georges DuBoeuf, Red Burgundy, 2011

The Finale: Fruit Gratinees Matisse with Ruby Port Sabayon; Wine Pairing-Oregon Pinot Gris,Vine Glace`, King Estate, 2007

Join Hosts Robert Blair and Sharon Welch-Blair for their annual gourmet extravaganza and dance and be entertained by classically trained musicians in the Grand Manor of “Downton Abbey”.  Make your reservations now at 501-374-7966.   A few seats are still available for this exclusive gala event.  Book a romantic getaway, avoid the drive and enjoy an elegant brunch at 11:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day in the Dining Room of The Empress, the Souths finest “old world” experience, compliments of The Empress!

Look for recipes from this special meal in our next blog.

 

“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.

 

Empress is voted “Reader’s Choice”

November 7th, 2012 by Lisa

The readers of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette vote yearly on their favorite local businesses.  Food, lodging, health-care and schools are all voted on.  This year, The Empress is proud to be named reader’s choice for “Best Bed and Breakfast”.  The Empress has been awarded this honor numerous times in the past and is glad to once again be recognized by Arkansans as their favorite “B and B”.

Packet House serves Great Food with a side of Amazing Architecture

October 26th, 2012 by Lisa

We’ve all driven by that big old house on Cantrell by Dillard’s Corporate Offices and thought, “That house is beautiful…why isn’t anybody doing anything with it?’  Well, after a few years of sitting empty, someone finally IS doing something with it.  The McDonald-Wait-Newton House, more commonly known as The Packet House, has recently opened it’s doors to the public as a restaurant.

Wes Ellis, the Owner and Executive Chef, describes the cuisine as modernized Southern Comfort Food and the descriptor seems apt to me.  My friend and I dined at The Packet House on a recent Thursday.  We were led through the suprisingly (in my opinion) modern interior to a small room tucked into the back of the house that also led out to a deck.  The atmosphere would have been great if it weren’t for the other occupants of this room (a group of around 15 young women celebrating a birthday) with white table clothes and sparse modern deco.

My companion ordered the trout and I ordered the duck breast.  The menu descriptions didn’t do justice to the perfectly cooked duck sitting in a sweet tomato reduction with good ol’ southern hoppin’ john on the side.  Halfway through our meal we decided to switch plates and I was very pleased with this decsion as well.  His trout was pan seared with the skin still on, sitting on ratatouille and drizzled with a lemon beurre blanc.  We enjoyed a very nice bottle of Reisling with the meal, one of my new favorites that I will be searching out in stores.

Would I recommend this restaurant to guests?  I most certainly would, both for the food and for the beautiful house that it is served in!  What better place to send guests from one beautiful historic mansion than to another!

 

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.