The Paul Laurence Dunbar School Neighborhood Historic District was published for the great and accessible Encyclopedia of Arkansas.net April 27, 2015. The EOA is great and I appreciate the opportunity to dig into an area of interest and share. The EOA Team R-O-C-K and welcome submissions. If you are interested in writing an entry click here for their style guide, author guidelines and more. For a list of entries needing authors (and in process) click here.
The Dunbar School Neighborhood Historic District is one of the neighborhoods my wife and I spent many hours driving within looking for our haven of peace and tranquility to purchase nearly five years ago. We settled in an area a short walk away but frequent the neighborhood to visit the Sue Cowan Williams Public Library, whose namesake according to the EOA “represented African-American teachers in the Little Rock School District as the plaintiff in the case challenging the rate of salaries allotted to teachers in the district based solely on skin color.” For more on Ms. Williams click here. The district also houses The Hearne Fine Art Gallery which promotes African American fine arts, the Dunbar Community Garden and so much more.
Here’s an excerpt of the entry:
“Dotted with homes dating to the 1890s, the Paul Laurence Dunbar School Neighborhood Historic District in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) has been described by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program as “reflecting the varied architectural styles prevalent during the late-nineteenth and early-to-mid-twentieth centuries, exhibiting a broad mix of influences and architectural variants popular during the period.” The district is nestled between the Governor’s Mansion Historic District to the east and the Central High School Neighborhood Historic District to the west.
Paul Laurence Dunbar Junior and Senior High School and Junior College, from which the historic district takes its name, was erected in 1929. “The elaborate Art Deco school is undoubtedly the architectural showcase of the neighborhood,” noted the Paul Laurence Dunbar School Neighborhood Historic District National Register nomination form. According to the National Park Service, the school was “considered by alumnae and others the ‘most modern and complete public high school building in the United States erected specifically for Negroes.’” One of several African-American schools in Little Rock during the era of legal segregation, the school remains in operation in the twenty-first century as the Dunbar International Gifted and Talented Magnet Middle School and is located at 1100 Wright Avenue.”
Click here for for the rest of the entry and if you visit Little Rock spend some quality time downtown and check out this and the other historic neighborhoods.