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Little Rock's Quapaw Quarter has classic, antebellum homes

March 22, 2009|Whitney Friedlander

The Civil War didn't damage Little Rock as severely as it did other Southern cities because Confederate forces evacuated after the Battle of Helena in 1863.

That helped safeguard the antebellum housing in the historic Quapaw Quarter. The nine square miles, named for the Quapaw Indian Tribe that once included Little Rock in its territorial boundaries, showcase some of the best architectural examples of this period. Highlights include Greek Revival-influenced buildings such as the cheery Curran Hall (circa 1842 and now a city-owned visitors center) and the Pike-Fletcher-Terry house (circa 1840), once home to Pulitzer Prize-winning poet John Gould Fletcher.

As the quarter grew in the late 1800s, extravagant, castle-like Queen Annes were in vogue. The home of local architect Frank W. Gibb (circa 1890) and the Empress of Little Rock (1888), a mansion operating as a bed-and-breakfast, are both fine examples. There's also the Italianate and Second Empire-style Villa Marre (1881), better known as the exterior of the Sugarbaker design studio on the TV show "Designing Women."

Each May, when the temperatures are balmy, the Quapaw Quarter Assn. hosts a home tour. Our visit, alas, took place in the sauna-to-showers summer, so we popped in to Curran Hall for some free literature on creating your own self-guided tour.

We aren't the only ones who visit Little Rock this time of year. Despite the hair-frizzing weather, the city greets most of its tourists during the summer.

-- Whitney Friedlander

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