What's old is new again. Well, maybe not new exactly, but it can be a lot of fun.
Since the 1960s, the Quapaw Quarter Association has worked to preserve historic homes in Little Rock and to promote awareness and appreciation of and enthusiasm for the city's older neighborhoods.
What better way to do that than to show off those neighborhoods in grand, fun style? For the 50th time, the association is hosting its Quapaw Quarter Spring Tour of Homes. Part of the goal, executive director Rhea Roberts explains, is to "show them what living in a historic neighborhood is like and the benefit of keeping these historic houses viable."
For the tour, some of the city's oldest houses open their doors and gardens to visitors who want to learn more about the structures' history, or learn what it's like to live in a historic neighborhood, or maybe are just nosy and want to see what grand old houses look like inside.
Docents will be in all the houses to share stories. Visitors are welcome to go at their own pace.
"It's self-guided," Roberts says. "You can hear as much or as little about them as you'd like."
For some, historic old houses are synonymous with "stuffy" or "intimidating."
Not so for this tour. It's more like a family friendly block party. The streets are closed to traffic. There are food vendors and music, and Arkansas Living History Association members dress in period costumes and offer old-fashioned lawn games for all ages.
Families are not only welcome, they're encouraged.
"We try to keep it family oriented on Sunday afternoon," Roberts says. "We're trying to show that younger families are moving into the neighborhood. We like to see the kids running around."
And since Sunday is also Mother's Day, the tour is a good multigenerational family activity option.
The association is celebrating the 50th tour with a special pre-tour brunch and garden tour, 11 a.m. Sunday at Curran Hall, 615 E. Capitol Ave., where former event chairmen will be honored and Master Gardeners will offer tours of the Marjem Ward Jackson Historic Garden. Tickets are $35 in advance, $50 at the door and include Sunday afternoon tours.
Saturday there is a Candlelight and Champagne tour at 5:30 p.m. that includes dinner and a party at the Governor's Mansion at 7:30. Tickets are $125.
Also Saturday, the association is hosting an after party at South on Main restaurant, 1304 S. Main St., with music by Rodney Block and the Real Music Lovers at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door.
Tickets to Saturday's events also include admission to Sunday's tour.
On Sunday during the tour, there will be a ticket booth at the Bernice Garden farmers market and trolleys will run on a loop from the market to the tour district and back. The Esse Purse Museum will offer $5 discounted admission to people with tour wristbands.
The home tour centers on the Arkansas Governor's Mansion Historic District.
In addition to the Arkansas Governor's Mansion, the tour includes the Mayer Cottage (1937), Pierce House (c. 1881), Turner-Back House (c. 1884-85), Caruth-Cochran House (c. 1882) and the Old Methodist Parsonage (c. 1927). All are clustered within a block, which, as Roberts says, "keeps it pretty compact."
Parking will be available on surrounding streets. They ask that attendees wear flat shoes in the homes to protect the floors.
Tour tickets will be available Sunday at Curran Hall, the Bernice Garden farmers market and at the two tour entrances: 17th and Center streets and 18th and Spring streets.
Quapaw Quarter Spring Tour of Homes
1-5 p.m. Sunday Tickets: $20 advance, $25 day of event; free for children 10 and younger (501) 371-0075 quapaw.com
Weekend on 05/08/2014
Print Headline: Quapaw Quarter celebrates 50th Tour of Homes