Arkansas’s Old State House, arguably the most famous building in the state, was conceived during the territorial period and has served through statehood. A Pictorial History of Arkansas’s Old State House traces the history of the architecture and purposes of the remarkable building.
The history begins with Gov. John Pope’s ideas for a symbolic state house for Arkansas and continues through the construction years and an expansion in 1885. After years of deterioration, the building was abandoned by the state government, and the Old State House then became a medical school and office building. Kwas traces the subsequent fight for the building’s preservation on to its use today as a popular museum of Arkansas history and culture.
Brief biographies of secretaries of state, preservationists, caretakers, and others are included, and the book is generously illustrated with early and seldom-seen photographs, drawings, and memorabilia.
“I am delighted that anthropologist Mary L. Kwas has written this engaging history of Arkansas’s Old State House. Besides the building’s historical, cultural, and political importance to Arkansas, the Old State House holds tremendous personal significance for me. I had an inaugural reception there in 1977 when I became Attorney General. I supported its restoration in my first term as governor. We celebrated Arkansas’s sesquicentennial there in 1986. My road to the Presidency began there, and it was the site of our Election Night celebration in 1992 and 1996. The Old State House is a beautiful building that carries the echoes of all our struggles and dreams. I applaud Kwas for preserving the legacy of this unique treasure.”
—President Bill Clinton
“This book rises far beyond a mere souvenir item into a detailed account of how the building has stood at the very center of the state’s political life… surely it must rank as one of the most beautiful and essential books in the canon of Arkansas history.”
—Michael B. Dougan, Arkansas Historical Quarterly