LITTLE ROCK (KATV) – This weekend marks fifty years of the Quapaw Quarter Spring Tour. It’s a tour of Little Rock’s historic homes and buildings in what was once a neglected area of the city. A lot has changed over the last fifty years, involving a renaissance of SoMa and a flocking of younger families to homes with history and character.
Just caddy-corner from the Governor’s Mansion, 1722 Center Street belongs to Tom and Lillian Wittenberg – the first stop on Sunday of the Spring Tour.
“It’s a wonderful old house,” commented Tom Wittenberg. “It was changed from a Victorian style to a Craftsman style house.”
Wittenberg is no stranger to Quapaw, having lived in another historic structure in the MacArthur Historic District back in the 1970s. He said at that point downtown wasn’t the place to be, just businesses and banks. It’s why he and his wife moved out west, but moved back to Quapaw several years ago to take advantage of the once-again flourishing neighborhood.
Originally built in 1884, Wittenberg’s home now sits on the National Register of Historic Places, as do many of the homes in the Quapaw Quarter. The Quapaw Quarter is comprised of a nine-mile area of historic homes and businesses encompassing 15 different neighborhoods across Little Rock.
“The Quapaw Quarter Association is our city-wide non-profit for historic preservation,” said Rhea Roberts, executive director for the Quapaw Quarter Association.
“We have a number of programs to promote preservation and saving our architectural heritage and the Spring Tour is our biggest program as a way to bring people into these neighborhoods and show them the value of saving these amazing homes.”
Just around the corner from the Craftsman-style brick home on Center Street is a Victorian-style home on 18th Street; that home belongs to Bo Brister and his young family. They moved to the home just over a year ago, part of a movement of younger singles and families moving back to an urban style of living.
“This house became available and it’s been I’d say a really pleasant surprise to the upside as far as the family atmosphere and how quiet it is,” said Brister.
Brister said Quapaw provides him with easy access to I-630, but enjoys being just blocks away from the SoMa district which is coming back to life with new restaurants and stores beginning to fill storefronts once again.
“People are coming back,” said Wittenberg.
Television personality P. Allen Smith will be leading the Quapaw Quarter Tour with First Lady Ginger Beebe. Tickets are $20 in advance.