Plans are within the works to maneuver the Latimore Vacationer House in Russellville 2½ blocks down the road to a brand new location this summer season.
Then, hopefully, the historic however dilapidated home could be restored.
“Really it is a last-ditch effort, and I believe it will be actually profitable,” stated Betsy McGuire, vp of the board of Pals of the Latimore Vacationer House, a nonprofit group that has raised $167,000 to assist save the construction.
Constructed across the flip of the Twentieth century, the two-story Latimore home operated as a vacationer dwelling from the late Thirties till the Seventies.
“Operated by Eugene Latimore and Cora Wilson Latimore and their daughter Anna, the house supplied short-term lodging for African Individuals, a lot of whom labored on the railroad,” based on the Encyclopedia of Arkansas. “Eugene Latimore additionally labored as a veterinarian.”
Through the Jim Crow period, Black individuals touring by the South particularly may have bother discovering locations to eat, sleep, purchase gasoline or get a haircut. Victor H. Inexperienced and Co. of New York Metropolis started publishing The Negro Motorist Inexperienced Guide in 1936, an inventory of companies that had been pleasant to Black clients.
“With the introduction of this journey information in 1936, it has been our concept to offer the Negro traveler data that can hold him from operating into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his journeys extra pleasant,” learn the introduction to the 1949 Inexperienced Guide.
The Latimore dwelling was listed in annual editions of the Inexperienced Guide revealed from 1939 by 1966 and was the one lodging listed for Black vacationers between North Little Rock and Fort Smith from 1948 by 1966. Publication of the Inexperienced Guide was suspended throughout World Struggle II however resumed in 1947.
“Carry your Inexperienced Guide with you … Chances are you’ll want it!” learn the phrases on the entrance of the books.
Two Arkansas cities — Little Rock and Scorching Springs — stood out within the Inexperienced Books for having many companies that accommodated Black vacationers. Arkadelphia, Camden, El Dorado, Hope, Pine Bluff and Texarkana additionally had a number of companies that catered to Black vacationers within the mid-Twentieth century.
But it surely wasn’t that approach within the Arkansas River Valley between Fort Smith and North Little Rock, based mostly on listings within the Inexperienced Books.
Russellville’s Latimore home is at 318 S. Houston Ave., a number of blocks south and west of U.S. 64, the primary freeway from Little Rock to Fort Smith earlier than the development of Interstate 40.
New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church, which owns the property the place the Latimore home is at the moment situated, wants that lot for enlargement, McGuire stated.
Richard Harris grew to become mayor of Russellville in 2019 and shortly started in search of an answer for the Latimore home.
“If the home weren’t of historic significance town would have condemned the home by now and doubtless razed it,” he stated.
Harris stated the church wasn’t concerned about preserving the house the place it’s, so he requested the clergy if they’d donate the home to town so it might be moved. Ultimately, they agreed to try this.
One other church — The Bridge Church — has donated two vacant tons on the relocation website, McGuire stated. She stated extra adjoining land could also be bought.
The brand new website is on the nook of Houston and Fifth streets, throughout Houston Road from James College Park, as soon as the positioning of a college for Black college students.
On Friday, the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program introduced 41 statewide grants, together with a $34,667 grant to assist with Section I of the Latimore Vacationer House undertaking.
“Section I is to get the house moved,” McGuire stated. “Then the exhausting work of restoration and rehabilitation will happen.”
Section I is estimated to price $77,000, based on the grant software. Moreover the $20,000 price of bodily transferring the home, Section I consists of $25,000 to buy extra property, $10,000 for engineering and website preparation, $12,000 to rebuild the unique basis on the new location and $10,000 for different bills together with putting in utilities.
McGuire stated she hopes they’ll bodily transfer the home someday in August.
She stated Section II, the restoration, could price $1 million, so fundraising efforts will proceed. Many companies are donating their time and experience.
“The neighborhood actually appears to have embraced this undertaking with open arms,” McGuire stated.
She stated it has been a public-private partnership, and the brand new Latimore home website will turn into metropolis property.
McGuire, who can be chair of the Russellville Historic District Fee, stated she does not know precisely how the home can be used after it is moved and restored, though it may function a gathering or occasion middle.
“I would prefer to see them flip it right into a bed-and-breakfast and put it on the Civil Rights Path,” Harris stated. “I believe it will be an enormous draw for town of Russellville.”
The grant software included 5 letters of advice. One was from Corliss Williamson, a Russellville native and former NBA basketball participant and coach, who wrote that he was “born and raised within the James College Park neighborhood.”
“I attribute lots of my private and profession success to the neighborhood the place I used to be raised,” Williamson wrote. “Rising up, the life classes I attained on the James College Park had been invaluable. My friends and I gained a way of neighborhood satisfaction and the distinction of representing it. The Latimore dwelling would function a bridge to attach at the moment’s youth to the previous. It might be a historic landmark and illustration of the story of our Black neighborhood in Russellville.”
In his letter, Randy Hendrix, president of the board of Pals of the Latimore Vacationer House, wrote that he’s a lifelong resident of the neighborhood. He remembered when the roads had been grime and there was no park.
“We’re pleased with the historical past that we now have in our neighborhood, and the Latimore dwelling is part of that historical past that should be saved, not just for the reminiscence of the Latimores however for what they stood for, not just for our neighborhood however metropolis, and never just for our metropolis, for our state,” Hendrix wrote.
Victor Inexperienced died in 1960 and the Inexperienced Guide ceased publication in 1967, shortly after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 opened public amenities (at the least in idea) to all Individuals.
A 2018 film known as “Inexperienced Guide” introduced consideration to the historic journey guides.
The two was added to the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations in 2012.
In 2018, Protect Arkansas listed the Latimore home as one of many state’s Ten Most Endangered Properties: https://bit.ly/3yjbw0F.
To view the Inexperienced Books on-line, go to https://on.nypl.org/2DoXpO5.
For extra data on Eugene and Cora Latimore, see https://bit.ly/3HVRMn5.