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 time.
Then, hopefully, the historic however dilapidated home might be restored.
“Actually it is a last-ditch effort, and I feel it’s going to be actually profitable,” mentioned Betsy McGuire, vice chairman of the board of Associates 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 house from the late Nineteen 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, lots of whom labored on the railroad,” in keeping with the Encyclopedia of Arkansas. “Eugene Latimore additionally labored as a veterinarian.”
In the course of the Jim Crow period, Black folks touring by the South specifically might 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 E book in 1936, an inventory of companies that have been pleasant to Black clients.
“With the introduction of this journey information in 1936, it has been our concept to provide the Negro traveler info that may maintain him from operating into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his journeys extra pleasant,” learn the introduction to the 1949 Inexperienced E book.
The Latimore house was listed in annual editions of the Inexperienced E book printed 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 E book was suspended throughout World Warfare II however resumed in 1947.
“Carry your Inexperienced E book with you … You might 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.
However it wasn’t that approach within the Arkansas River Valley between Fort Smith and North Little Rock, primarily based on listings within the Inexperienced Books.
Russellville’s Latimore home is at 318 S. Houston Ave., just a few blocks south and west of U.S. 64, the principle 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 present positioned, wants that lot for growth, McGuire mentioned.
Richard Harris grew to become mayor of Russellville in 2019 and shortly started searching for an answer for the Latimore home.
“If the home weren’t of historic significance the town would have condemned the home by now and possibly razed it,” he mentioned.
Harris mentioned the church wasn’t taken with preserving the house the place it’s, so he requested the clergy if they might donate the home to the town so it might be moved. Finally, they agreed to do this.
One other church — The Bridge Church — has donated two vacant heaps on the relocation web site, McGuire mentioned. She mentioned extra adjoining land could also be bought.
The brand new web site is on the nook of Houston and Fifth streets, throughout Houston Avenue from James Faculty Park, as soon as the positioning of a faculty 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 venture.
“Section I is to get the house moved,” McGuire mentioned. “Then the exhausting work of restoration and rehabilitation will happen.”
Section I is estimated to value $77,000, in keeping with the grant utility. Moreover the $20,000 value of bodily shifting the home, Section I consists of $25,000 to buy extra property, $10,000 for engineering and web site preparation, $12,000 to rebuild the unique basis on the new location and $10,000 for different bills together with putting in utilities.
McGuire mentioned she hopes they will bodily transfer the home someday in August.
She mentioned Section II, the restoration, might value $1 million, so fundraising efforts will proceed. Many companies are donating their time and experience.
“The neighborhood actually appears to have embraced this venture with open arms,” McGuire mentioned.
She mentioned it has been a public-private partnership, and the brand new Latimore home web site will change into metropolis property.
McGuire, who can also be chair of the Russellville Historic District Fee, mentioned she would not know precisely how the home can be used after it is moved and restored, though it might function a gathering or occasion heart.
“I would wish to see them flip it right into a bed-and-breakfast and put it on the Civil Rights Path,” Harris mentioned. “I feel it will be an enormous draw for the town of Russellville.”
The grant utility 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 Faculty 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 Faculty Park have been invaluable. My friends and I gained a way of neighborhood pleasure and the dignity of representing it. The Latimore house would function a bridge to attach right this moment’s youth to the previous. It could 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 Associates of the Latimore Vacationer House, wrote that he’s a lifelong resident of the neighborhood. He remembered when the roads have been filth and there was no park.
“We’re happy with the historical past that we’ve in our neighborhood, and the Latimore house 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 E book ceased publication in 1967, shortly after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 opened public amenities (at the very least in idea) to all Individuals.
A 2018 film known as “Inexperienced E book” 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 info on Eugene and Cora Latimore, see https://bit.ly/3HVRMn5.