October jury trial scheduled in lawsuit over Pike-Fletcher-Terry House

Terry House in Little Rock on Monday, March 25, 2024. .(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)
Terry House in Little Rock on Monday, March 25, 2024. .(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

A jury trial in the lawsuit over the status of the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House in Little Rock has been scheduled for October.

According to a pretrial order issued by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Cara Connors last month, a pretrial conference has been scheduled for Sept. 12, with the jury trial to follow Oct. 29-30.

In 1964, sisters Adolphine Fletcher Terry and Mary Fletcher Drennan gave the 1840 Greek Revival mansion to the city for the use and benefit of the Arkansas Arts Center, now called the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts.

The house at 411 E. Seventh St. is currently vacant and needs repairs.

Six heirs of the two sisters sued the city, the museum and the museum's foundation over the state of the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House in October 2021. The plaintiffs contend that the conditions of the deed have been breached, meaning the property should revert to them and be accompanied by money with which to restore the mansion.

Richard H. Mays, an attorney representing the heirs, has put the estimated cost of restoring the mansion at $1.8 million to $2 million.

Last year, Connors dismissed the museum's foundation from the litigation. In January, the judge denied a request to intervene in the litigation filed on behalf of the Quapaw Quarter Association, a Little Rock-based historic-preservation nonprofit.

Additionally, in a memo to city leaders last June, Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter signaled a desire to put the litigation to bed with a pleading that would formally return the property to the plaintiffs.

However, in an interview at the time, Mays said, "It's not just a matter of the city agreeing that the property reverts back to the heirs and everybody walks away." He noted that the plaintiffs could continue to seek damages.

A hearing was held Feb. 13 to address a motion filed on behalf of the museum that asked Connors to strike the plaintiffs' request for a jury trial. Connors declined to make a ruling at the time, citing other legal questions that she said needed to be answered.

A judge's note added to the court docket the same day said Connors would remove the jury trial scheduled for May and issue a new scheduling order.

Her order setting the October trial dates was issued Feb. 14.

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