Pretty pots of flowers greeted us as we walked up the brick walk. About 40 to 50 of us waited in the warm sunshine for the doors to be opened. We formed a loose line from the street to the porch. As I chatted with the couple behind me, I learned that they do this every month. Most of us were of the older generation, but there was a group of home school children on a field trip.
You see, I recently discovered a program, Sandwiching In History at Lunch, presented by the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Each month historic homes and buildings are opened for a tour and a short lecture about their historical significance. This month's tour was of the Rozelle-Murphy House, a Queen Anne-style house built about 1887.
Extensive remodeling was done in 1930. Mr. Murphy who bought the house from the Rozelle family, married when he was 60 years old. He was so excited to finally have a family that he remodeled the house making it large enough for many of his wife's family to reside with them. He added a grand staircase and had the huge attic converted into bedrooms. When the remodeling was done, the house had ten bedrooms and five bathrooms. At one time five generations were living here together. I can't imagine that! They must have been a very close family! We were all surprised when an older lady standing in the audience was introduced to us. She was part of this large family and was actually born in the house. She provided "inside" information about the house. I thought that was pretty cool!
I was impressed with the large kitchen area in the back of the house. I loved the built-in cupboard and the antiques that were still in it. I'm sure it was quite a busy place since the family was so large. One of the ladies actually opened a small restaurant in one section of the house. She later became a chef at the Capitol Hotel, one of Little Rock's historic hotels.
On one hand, I was a little disappointed to find that the house is now occupied by a law firm, but on the other hand I was certainly glad the firm bought the house and is keeping it in great condition. Instead of rooms furnished as a home there were large desks, hundreds of law books, and many computers. There are still touches of the old house like this corner of the glassed in porch with an old rocker, original French doors, and beautiful glass doorknobs. That immediately changes though, when you look to the left.
The porch is used as a conference room. The room looked whimsical to me with it's eclectic decor.
I was intrigued by the different shaped windows. Most of the glass in the house is original and wavy. Remember, I mentioned that we stood in the sun waiting to get in? I looked out an upstairs window and was surprised to see that it was storming, really storming as in strong winds and pouring rain!
I had decided to take my outside pictures of the house after the tour. Of course, that didn't happen since it was still raining. I wanted to get a better picture of the gas lamps on the porch, but this was as close as I could get and keep my camera dry. The vintage gas street lamps were added when the porch was remodeled in 1930.
I had no umbrella and had parked a half-block away. I had no choice but to tuck my camera under my shirt and walk through the rising water down the street. By the time I got to the car I was drenched from head to toe, but my camera was dry. I did grab a quick picture of the hitching post as I hurried by and was glad I wasn't on horseback or in a buggy on this rainy day.
It was such a fun experience I couldn't stop grinning as I drove home soakin' wet! I am definitely going to October's history tour. It's another home, this one built in 1925. Before I go though, I will check the weather!!