Records Now Available for the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas/Preserve Arkansas

Rendering of the Donaghey building at the corner of Main and Seventh Streets in Little Rock—one of the historic properties Preserve Arkansas has worked to preserve in recent years.

Preserve Arkansas was founded in 1980 as the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas to facilitate communication and cooperation among the various community and regional historic preservation organizations in Arkansas. Since its founding, it has held annual meetings/conferences, as well as workshops, fundraisers, and other activities. At each annual conference, the Alliance has presented awards in several categories for recent achievements of historic preservation in Arkansas. It also conducts a yearly Ramble—a guided tour of historic properties in some community or region in the state. Preserve Arkansas also designates a yearly list of Most Endangered Properties in Arkansas, educating the public about these properties and helping to energize efforts to protect and preserve them for their historic value.

Jackson Walter (chief executive officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation), Parker Westbrook (founder of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas), and Senator David Pryor at Westbrook Testimonial Dinner, part of the Annual Conference of the Alliance, November 7, 1986.

Parker Westbrook was largely responsible for creating and organizing the Alliance. While living in Washington DC and working on the staff of Senator J. William Fulbright, Westbrook restored a Quaker cottage in Waterford, Virginia. Returning to Arkansas in 1974 (and working as an administrative aide for Governor David Pryor), Westbrook became involved in historic preservation at the Pioneer Washington Restoration at what is now the Historic Washington State Park and also at the Arkansas Territorial Restoration at what is now Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock. Recognizing the need for an umbrella organization to coordinate historic preservation activities throughout the state, Westbrook used his political and community contacts to draw together the Alliance, which has operated under the name Preserve Arkansas since 2015.

Among the materials donated to the CALS Butler Center for Arkansas Studies are organizational documents of the Alliance; records from the annual meetings and other workshops and events; documentation of the Alliance’s awards, Rambles, and Most Endangered List designations; and selections from the Alliance’s library of publications, articles, and newspaper clippings. The collection includes photographs, audio-visual materials, and digital records, as well as newsletters, correspondence, and other records involving Preserve Arkansas. Read more about Preserve Arkansas on the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas here. The collection is available in the Research Room of the CALS Roberts Library, and the finding aid is available online here.

By Steve Teske, archivist, CALS Roberts Library

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