Posts Tagged ‘The Empress of Little Rock’

Wedding Traditions…”Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue”

January 17th, 2013 by Lisa

something old newborrowblue

 

This week is a busy wedding week for us here at The Empress.  We have a wedding rehearsal on Thursday and a beautiful Princess-themed wedding on Friday.  Then we move directly into Arkansas’ largest bridal event, The Arkansas Democrat Gazette Bridal Show, on Sunday.  With so much wedding fever in the air, I started wondering about the wedding traditions that we adhere to.  What do all of these traditions symbolize?  So I did some research on the ever popular “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue” and found that it was a ceremony for luck that began in Victorian times (perfect for us here at the Empress and our love of Victoriana!).  Each item in this sort poem represents a good luck token for the bride – if she  carries them, it is said her marriage will have good fortune

 

Something Old: The old item has several different meanings,  but one general theme: a link of continuity from the bride’s past. Some say this  is a desire to remain connected with your family even after you established a  family of your own. Other sources say it represents the life you are leaving  behind. Another idea is that the tradition of family values and the connection  family brings is being passed down to you. It is safe to say that all of these  assumptions are correct; the bride is leaving behind her past to start a new  beginning, but not to forget where she has been. Things you can use for the  something old theme are: jewelry from your mother, grandmother or  great-grandmother, an old wedding photo from your family, a love letter from  your father to your mother, a picture of your parents in your purse, an old  handkerchief, a childhood pillow to hold your rings, a piece of lace sewn into  the hem of your gown.

Something New: means optimism and hope for the future. It  conveys the message that you and your husband are creating a new union that will  endure the test of time. Many brides choose to use their wedding gown, flowers  or rings to symbolize the “something new” in this tradition.

Something Borrowed: Again, there are several meanings behind  borrowing an item from a friend or relative. Some sources say borrowing  something is borrowing happiness from a happily married woman, so that their  happiness will carry over to the new bride. Other sources have said it is  symbolizes the love and adoration you have for the person from whom you have  borrowed the item from. If you borrow an item from your happily married  grandmother or mother, you can fulfill both of these meanings. Doing this lets  your parents (or grandparents) know that you admire their marriage and the  respect they have for each other and that you hope to have an equally happy  marriage. The borrowed item also signifies to the bride that she can always  count on her friends and family for support. Items that can be used for the  something borrowed theme could be: family jewelry, a prayer book from your  mother or grandmother, strands of pearls, or your parent’s cake cutting set.

Something Blue: The color blue has been connected to  weddings for centuries as a symbol of love, modesty, fidelity, good luck, purity  and loyalty. Many brides incorporate this color into their clothing, by either  wearing a blue stoned jewelry item or wearing a blue garter. However for a  modern spin, you could use blue toe nail polish, blue eye shadow, a blue ribbon  tied into your flowers, blue underwear, even wear light blue shoes! The  possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination

 

Little Rock named one of The Top 10 Most Unexpectedly Romantic

January 2nd, 2013 by Lisa

What does Little Rock have in common with Pittsburg, Providence and Long Beach?  All of these cities were included in Yahoo’s “Ten Unexpectedly Romantic U.S. Cities.  Other cities lauded were:  Minneapolis, Cleveland, Lanai City, Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Washington D.C.

Little Rock is proud to be among such company, and The Empress of  Little Rock is proud to be listed as one of the top things to do in one of the top unexpectedly romantic cities!  Yahoo! Travel’s Melissa Burdick Harmon says of the historic bed and breakfast “Arrive early at the posh, Victorian-style Empress of LIttle Rock Hotel, for a couple’s massage, some downtime in the garden, and maybe a carriage ride along tree-lined streets and past the Governor’s Mansion”.

Want to know more Little Rock Landmarks mentioned for an unforgettable romatic getaway?  It was suggested that visitors try Ciao Italian Restaurant, 1620 Savoy and The William J. Clinton Library and Museum.   You can see the article from Yahoo! Travel here.   The Empress would also like to suggest a hike up Pinnacle Mountain, a visist to Cedar Falls at Mount Petit Jean or a drive along Arkansas’ backroads to enjoy the amazing fall foliage.  Check out Packages from The Empress that includes these favorites, such as the Gone With the Wind PackageValentines Day Packages or the Romantic Waterfall Package.

 

 

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.

 

Gift Certificate Super Sale!

November 29th, 2012 by Lisa

It’s the Holidays, and everyone is looking for a great deal.  Whether it is for yourself, a loved one or both, the gift of a luxurious stay at The Empress is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  So we would like to offer you a crowd pleasing deal to go with your crowd pleasing stay:  Buy a $100 gift certificate, receive a $25 gift certificate for free!

There is no better way to say “I love you” than gifting the pampering and romance that only The Empress can provide~  Call quickly, this offer is for a limited time only!  501-374-7966!

Check out our rooms at www.TheEmpress.com

“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!

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.

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.