Posts Tagged ‘Bed and Breakfast in Little Rock’

“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.

 

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!

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.

 

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!

 

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 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.