Quapaw Quarter Association runs tours of the historic district with modern infill

Plans are underway for the 56th Quapaw Quarter Association House Tour this fall after being strangled twice, with organizers ready to show the Pettaway neighborhood.

“It’s a neighborhood that has a few historic houses, but there are also some very interesting modern infills because it’s an area that was pretty badly hit by the tornado in 1999,” says Patricia Blick, executive director of the Quapaw Quarter Association. “It’s an area where we see a lot of creative design, fitting into the neighborhood.”

From noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 2 and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 3, ticket holders, priced from $ 20 (for early risers) to $ 30 on the day of the visit, can visit five homes in Pettaway, east of Main Street, in downtown Little Rock. Masks and proof of covid-19 vaccination will be required for everyone participating in the tours or using the cart that will transport visitors from house to house.

Tickets priced at $ 50 include a guided candlelight tour of the houses starting at 5 p.m. on October 2, as well as visits to one of two open-air champagne bars. There will be prepackaged snack boxes, assembled to minimize contact, in place of the usual appetizer table.

“People will be able to have a glass of champagne and have something to eat, then go into the houses,” says Blick.

The Pettaway neighborhood, originally known as the East Broadway neighborhood, was renamed by residents in 2003 in honor of Dr. Charles Pettaway, a well-known physician, after the owners turned brought together to work to reduce the increasing levels of crime associated with drug use. and gang activity.

Keith Caviness moved into the Wassell House in 2005 on S. Scott Street in late 1998, weeks before a tornado roared through the area and razed a grocery store two blocks away. He and his family sought refuge in the lower living standard of the home, designed for domestic help when the home was built in 1882. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Cary Jenkins)

Keith Caviness, owner of Corydon Wassell House in 2005 S. Scott Street, says his neighborhood has changed dramatically since he moved in about 22 years ago, just a few years after the release of the HBO documentary “Gang War: Bangin ‘in Little Rock” which highlighted gang violence in the capital.

“When I moved here, the Neighborhood Alert Center on 21st Street was home to 21st Posse Street,” he says.

Still, Caviness had no problem living on Scott Street, in what he describes as a quiet and safe neighborhood.

“Today the neighborhood is really improving,” he says. “There’s all kinds of new construction and renovations going on. People are moving here and it’s growing. They’re building a mixed-use development on 21st Street and SoMa has grown. It’s a growing and prosperous neighborhood. “

He named the Wassell House for the National Historic Register shortly after purchasing it.

“This is not one of those ornate Victorian designs… its architectural significance may have earned it a historical designation, but it was nominated because it was an association with Dr. Corydon Wassell, a native of Little Rock who became a hero of World War II, ”says Caviness.

Gallery: Quapaw Quarter Tour of Homes – Pettaway

Cecil B. DeMille has directed a film, starring Gary Cooper, Laraine Day, Signe Hasso and Dennis O’Keefe, about Dr. Wassell, aptly titled “The Story of Dr. Wassell”.

Less than a month after moving in, a tornado swept through the area, razing a grocery store two blocks away.

“Luckily, I just had some roof damage and a downed tree,” Caviness says.

He and his family were at the house when the storm blew, and they sought refuge in the lower living room which was designated for domestic help during the construction of the house in 1882.

Caviness provides a glimpse of what tour attendees might experience when they walk into his home by describing his first time inside.

“The exterior wasn’t that striking, but I opened the front door and it opened up to this huge covered walkway that runs the length of the house,” he says. “I was just like, ‘Well, that’s really cool.'”

The Des Arc house at 1906 S. Rock Street was cut in half and moved from Des Arc to Little Rock in 2019. Modern touches were added when the house was reassembled in the Pettaway neighborhood.  (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Cary Jenkins)

The Des Arc house at 1906 S. Rock Street was cut in half and moved from Des Arc to Little Rock in 2019. Modern touches were added when the house was reassembled in the Pettaway neighborhood. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Cary Jenkins)

The house has 13 foot ceilings and spacious rooms and has never been divided into apartments like so many historic homes in the area have been over the years.

“It pretty much retains its original structure, but of course modern amenities such as electrical and plumbing and a kitchen have been added,” he says.

Caviness encourages people to join the tour and find out what the Pettaway neighborhood is all about.

“Come see a neighborhood that has homes with strong roots and historic appeal,” he says. “Come see something you might not even know existed.”

The goal of the Quapaw Quarter Association is to preserve the historic spaces of Little Rock by safeguarding historic buildings and revitalizing older neighborhoods. The tour not only provides entertainment, but also an opportunity to take people to areas they might not otherwise have visited, in the hope that they might be interested in preservation efforts as well.

Blick says each of the houses on the tour were chosen because of interesting backgrounds or features.

The exterior of the Gentry-Taylor House, 1612 S. Commerce St., is a modern contrast to many older homes in the historic Pettaway district, the setting for the Quapaw Quarter Association's upcoming home tour.  (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Cary Jenkins)

The exterior of the Gentry-Taylor House, 1612 S. Commerce St., is a modern contrast to many older homes in the historic Pettaway district, the setting for the Quapaw Quarter Association’s upcoming home tour. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Cary Jenkins)

The Kleinschmidt house in 621 East 16th Street, built in 1907 by German immigrant Gustav B. Kleinschmidt, is owned by Cecil and Representative Denise Ennett.

Denise Ennett’s family previously owned the house and rented it when they bought another historic home.

“When Denise and Cecil came back to Arkansas – he’s an Air Force veteran – they rehabilitated this house and that’s where they’re raising their kids,” says Blick. “I love the story of his family home and his departure and then his return.”

Kleinschmidt built several homes in the area, but most were demolished as a result of neglect, razed for construction of Interstate 630, or were destroyed, by the tornado, Blicksays.

The House of Arcs at 1906 S. Rock Street was originally built in 1965 by the grandfather of the current owner on land in Des Arc, but it had to be demolished as it was in a floodplain. It was cut in half and moved to the Pettaway neighborhood in 2019 where it was reassembled and remodeled in a more modern layout.

Another more contemporary structure on the list is the Gentry-Taylor House in 1615 S. Commerce St., built in 2019-2020 on what was a vacant lot. The house, designed by David Anderson of gus design coop, is owned by Frederick Gentry and Jason Taylor.

The Tiny House, 1615 Park Lane, built by Mike Orndorff, is one of three small houses located within a block of the Pettaway neighborhood.  With only 270 square feet, this home is used as an Airbnb rental.  (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Cary Jenkins)

The Tiny House, 1615 Park Lane, built by Mike Orndorff, is one of three small houses located within a block of the Pettaway neighborhood. With only 270 square feet, this home is used as an Airbnb rental. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / Cary Jenkins)

“They kind of took a new twist on the historic hardware and setup and it’s just great,” said Blick. “They entertain a lot and they designed this house for entertainment.”

There is also a Tiny House, 1615, alley in the park, on tour. The 270 square foot home was built on vacant land in 2015.

“It was built by Mike Orndorff,” says Blick. “He’s using it as a short-term rental, but I think he also wants to see if that would work for permanent housing. It’s a nice little shape of a traditional chalet, and it’s kind of a fun little building, foreign and original. “

The tour, traditionally held over Mother’s Day weekend, was canceled in 2020 due to covid-19 restrictions. Organizers hoped it could be safely held in the fall, but as the number of covid-19 cases increased, they chose to postpone it again. As the tour continues, the dinner that is normally held during the event has been canceled as a precaution.

“We encourage attendees to go to SoMa and have dinner or brunch before starting on Sunday,” said Blick, adding that the Main Street Food Festival is also scheduled for October 2. “We hope this will also provide some support to the commercial area adjacent to Pettaway.”

56th Quapaw Quarter Association House Tour

When: noon-4 p.m. Saturday, October 2; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, October 3

Tickets: $ 20, $ 30 and $ 50

Call (501) 371-0075 for more information or visit www.quapaw.com

Masks and covid-19 vaccination documents required.

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