Capital improvements of $500,000 to Pike-Fletcher-Terry House expected after late tweak to Little Rock budget

$500,000 in LR budget amendment

The Pike-Fletcher-Terry House pictured on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 in Little Rock..(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Staci Vandagriff)

Improvements to the vacant Pike-Fletcher-Terry House are expected to take place because of a budget adjustment in the waning days of 2021 that was recently approved by the Little Rock Board of Directors.

The final amendment to this year's budget, which was approved during a city board meeting Tuesday, included a $500,000 allocation meant to pay for capital improvements to the historic property.

The Greek Revival mansion near MacArthur Park is currently the subject of a legal battle that has pitted six heirs of the sisters who originally deeded the property to Little Rock decades ago against the city and the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts.

As reflected in the 1964 deed, the mansion was meant to be used for the benefit of the Arkansas Arts Center, now known as the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts.

That lawsuit was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court in October.

The heirs claim the property has deteriorated due to neglect and lack of use -- an amended complaint suggested more than $1 million is needed for repairs, citing a June 2021 assessment of the mansion -- and have requested that ownership revert to them along with any money left in an endowment tied to the mansion.

Earlier this month, Finance Director Sara Lenehan told board members that the $500,000 allocation would hopefully be matched by private contributions.

Attorney Richard H. Mays, who is representing the heirs, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Dec. 8 that the city's pledge to spend the money would not change their legal strategy.

He noted that "it's also important that we have a discussion about what use is going to be made of the house by the city."

Constructed in 1840, the property has ties to significant families in the history of Little Rock and Central Arkansas, including Confederate general Albert Pike.

For a time, the mansion was home to a decorative arts museum, but the space is vacant at the moment.

In addition to the Terry House work, the final set of 2021 budget adjustments provided for additional transfers-out.

According to a budget memo from the city manager's office, the city will pay for a $1 million stormwater project at the Little Rock Zoo, $1 million in targeted community development work, $100,000 in improvements to the Daisy Bates House, $500,000 in renovations and new technology for the city board room and $135,000 to begin a "conceptual master plan" for Hindman and War Memorial parks, among other initiatives.