In the early 1950s, Elbert L. Fausett had a vision for a 600-house neighborhood in the wilds of Little Rock.
The development -- to be named Broadmoor -- would have something no other neighborhood had in the country. All of the houses would have central air conditioning.
But to get to the area -- once the hunting grounds of wealthy insurance man Raymond Rebsamen -- potential homeowners would have to travel down Hayes Street, a two-way gravel road dotted with what Fausett called "substandard homes."
"The worst thing about Broadmoor was the sight you had to carry people through to get to it. ... That's when the builders and the real estate people told me I'd lost my mind," Fausett said in a 1978 interview with the Arkansas Democrat.
But air conditioning! A luxury in the hot, humid South.
Fausett touted his vision for an air-conditioned neighborhood as a first "you might say in the whole world -- but we know America."
At the time, the Federal Housing Administration wouldn't include the cost of central air conditioning in its financing but Fausett eventually sold the FHA on the idea.
Today, Broadmoor has about 550 houses. And Hayes Street is now University Avenue -- a four-lane thoroughfare. Broadmoor's boundaries are a little fuzzy but generally it is off South University Avenue and just west of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
The Quapaw Quarter Association and the city of Little Rock are interested in preserving areas like Broadmoor for their historical significance and potential eligibility to be included in the National Register of Historic Places.
Patricia Blick, the association's executive director, and Mason Toms, an architecture historian at the Department of Arkansas Heritage, know some preservationists balk at applying the word "historic" to structures built in the 1950s.
She has been questioned by people older than 50 about the historic significance of structures built in their lifetimes.
"Things are evolving," she said. "They don't consider them historic because they remember when they [were] developed, but for technical purposes, we start looking at the 50-year mark."
The association is evolving, too. At one time, it concentrated on 16 square blocks in downtown Little Rock. Its mission now includes the preservation of structures in the greater Little Rock area.
To introduce the idea of expanding preservation, the association sponsors tours of mid century modern structures. Its next tour is Sept. 30, exploring four churches built in or near the Broadmoor area.
Toms, who specializes in mid century modern architecture, described each church:
• St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 1965-66 by Fred Perkins of Cowling and Roark, 6401 W. 32nd St.
St. Luke's is the first church designed by Perkins, who went on to design more than 150 churches in Arkansas. It features "a little hidden prayer room with beautiful stained glass."
"There's a lot of wood, beautiful stained glass, soaring ceilings, very dramatic space. It is kind of balance between formal architecture and and a homey, woodsy feeling. You feel so very cozy and comfortable."
• Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, now the New Life Christian Covenant, 1965 by Horace Piazza, 2924 Ware St.
The first church designed by Piazza, the structure resembles the organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.
"It is just a really beautiful and inspired design. Simple, smaller but really elegant."
The design is reminiscent of the prow of a ship jutting out of the ground.
"You can tell by looking at it that this was built on a budget. But they were going for a very high style effect."
• Carmelite Monastery of St. Teresa of Jesus, 1960-61 by Swaim Allen and Wellborn, 7201 W. 32nd St.
The monastery is home to 14 Catholic nuns. At one time, the nuns were fully cloistered, only allowed contact with the outside world on certain days. The A-frame monastery is hidden at the end of 32nd Street.
"The monastery is a beautiful, minimalist design. ... There is no significant detail to distract you. You really notice all of the beautiful materials."
• Western Hills United Methodist Church, 1974 by Mack Ferguson, 4601 Western Hills Ave.
Built on the edge of one of noted developer Justin Matthews' last projects, the church is on the grounds of the old Concordia Jewish country club.
A "tent-of-meeting" design, the church resembles the hull of a ship turned upside down. It features stained glass at both ends of the sanctuary with rows of glass on both sides.
"You kind of get light in every direction, but at the same time you feel like you are in a really big tent."
The Mid Century Modern Tour is sponsored by the Tower Building and Roark Perkins Perry Yelvington Architects. A reception will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday at the 501 Building, 501 Woodlane St. The tour is 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 30. Tickets are $50 for the reception and tour; $20 for reception only and $40 for tour only. More information: quapaw.com or (501) 371-0075.
Style on 09/23/2018
Print Headline: Quapaw expands into mid century