As the capital of Arkansas, Little Rock is one of the most popular places in the state to have a wedding, and it offers an excellent selection of indoor and outdoor venues for couples to choose from. The city is full of historic mansions with beautiful architecture and landscaped lawns perfect for romantic ceremonies, but couples can also take advantage of the city's location on the Arkansas River by having their wedding in an elegant ballroom overlooking the water. Whether you're looking for a picturesque ceremony site or the perfect place to host your reception, here are the best wedding venues in the city. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.The Bernice Garden
2.A Touch of Quality Event Center
3.Alda's Magnolia Hill
4.Arkansas Arts Center
5.Ashley Alexander House
6.Clinton Presidential Center
8.DoubleTree Hotel Little Rock & Robinson Center
9.Faulkner Lake Orchard Wedding and Event Center
11.Junior League of Little Rock
12.Little Rock Club
13.Little Rock Marriott
14.Maumelle Event Center
15.Next Level Events
16.NOAH'S Event Venue
17.Pinnacle Valley Receptions
18.Pleasant Valley Country Club
19.The Albert Pike Masonic Center
20.The Capital Hotel
21.The Castle on Stagecoach
22.The Empress of Little Rock
23.The Villa Marre
25.Twin City Limousines and Event Center
25 Best Wedding Venues in Little Rock, AR
- The Bernice Garden, Photo: The Bernice Garden
- A Touch of Quality Event Center, Photo: A Touch of Quality Event Center
- Alda's Magnolia Hill, Photo: Alda's Magnolia Hill
- Arkansas Arts Center, Photo: Arkansas Arts Center
- Ashley Alexander House, Photo: Kalinova Olena/stock.adobe.com
- Clinton Presidential Center, Photo: Volodymyr Shcerbak/stock.adobe.com
- Club 27, Photo: Club 27
- DoubleTree Hotel Little Rock & Robinson Center, Photo: DoubleTree Hotel Little Rock & Robinson Center
- Faulkner Lake Orchard Wedding and Event Center, Photo: Faulkner Lake Orchard Wedding and Event Center
- Goodwin Manor, Photo: Goodwin Manor
- Junior League of Little Rock, Photo: Freddy/stock.adobe.com
- Little Rock Club, Photo: Little Rock Club
- Little Rock Marriott, Photo: Little Rock Marriott
- Maumelle Event Center, Photo: Maumelle Event Center
- Next Level Events, Photo: Next Level Events
- NOAH'S Event Venue, Photo: Igor Dudchak/stock.adobe.com
- Pinnacle Valley Receptions, Photo: Pinnacle Valley Receptions
- Pleasant Valley Country Club, Photo: Pleasant Valley Country Club
- The Albert Pike Masonic Center, Photo: The Albert Pike Masonic Center
- The Capital Hotel, Photo: The Capital Hotel
- The Castle on Stagecoach, Photo: The Castle on Stagecoach
- The Empress of Little Rock, Photo: The Empress of Little Rock
- The Villa Marre, Photo: The Villa Marre
- Trapnall Hall, Photo: Trapnall Hall
- Twin City Limousines and Event Center, Photo: Twin City Limousines and Event Center
- Cover Photo: Zdenka/stock.adobe.com
Attraction Spotlight: Historic Arkansas Museum in Little Rock
2016 marks the 75th diamond anniversary of the Historic Arkansas Museum. Just below the southern bank of the Arkansas River, in the oldest part of Little Rock, Arkansas, it shows daily life in the 1800's. Alternating among its five historically-preserved buildings and grounds, the museum's dedicated re-enactors bring Arkansas' frontier history to life.
The Historic Arkansas Museum is acclaimed for its sensitive portrayal of Arkansas' Indian heritage, for its breadth and scholarship in Arkansas artifacts and textiles, for its outreach to schools and inter-active teaching, and for its showcasing of Arkansas artists, musicians, and craftsmen. The museum regularly has cultural and historic programs to demonstrate all things Arkansas.
The Museum owes a great debt to three exemplary Arkansas women. The first was Louise Watkins Loughborough, who, in 1939, saw the worth of a group of neglected, dilapidated houses on Block 32 of the Capital City, and endeavored to lobby the Arkansas Legislature for the funds to restore and preserve them.
These buildings were not just any buildings. The Hinderliter Grog Shop is the oldest building left standing in Little Rock. Another, the Woodruff Print Shop, printed the Arkansas Gazette in the 1820's and 30's, the oldest newspaper west of the Mississippi.
Loughborough's efforts brought about the Arkansas Territorial Restoration, as the museum was then named, and opened its doors for the first time in July of 1941. For the next 30 years, Louise Loughborough directed the Territorial Restoration, and, with the aid of architects and preservationists, added to the historical accuracy, vibrancy and usefulness of the buildings today.
The opening of the Museum showcased textiles and furnishings of the 1800's, and was significant for bringing two other feminine benefactors to the Museum. The first, Peg Newton Smith, volunteered, in costume, on the museum's opening day, and became a life-long volunteer and commissioner of the Museum. Along the way, Peg Newton put her love of the arts and her love of Arkansas into her vision for the future of what the museum was to become, and thanks to her, very early on, a separate gallery was set aside for showcasing Arkansas art. Peg loved Arkansas artists and artisans and believed that the museum could offer major support for the artistic communities in the state. She endeavored tirelessly on their behalf, so that now many hundreds of contemporary Arkansas artists have exhibited at HAM. The Museum Store, replete with crafts from all over the State, was also her brainchild, another vehicle for artists and artisans to display their work and to get paid for doing it. In her honor, a large sculpture was commissioned to express Peg's spirit, called ‘ pARTty for Peg', by Arkansas artist Alice Guffrey Miller.
On opening day in 1941, another young woman arrived to volunteer at the museum, and soon she and Peg Newton Smith became life-long friends and collaborators. Mary Sandlin Fletcher Worthen, for the next 70 plus years, added her considerable energy and talents to the museum. Besides an abiding love of history, she added her love for music, art and gardening. The medicinal herb garden at the Homestead is now named in her honor. Her son, Bill Worthen , will retire at the end of 2016 after 44 years as the museum's director. In his honor, the Bill Worthen Future of History Fund has been established, dedicated to "inspiring the Next Gener- ation of Arkansas History Lovers." The Worthens, together, encompass the museum's entire 75 year history, and are a testament to the love and esteem that many in Little Rock hold for this museum and its legacy.
The permanent collections are comprised of: Arkansas Made, The Knife Gallery, We Walk in Two Worlds, pARTy for Peg, and the five historic homes and their grounds.
The seven galleries of Arkansas Made, comprised of art and artifacts, is considered the state's premier collector of Arkansas-made decorative, fine, and mechanical arts, and seeking out the art in everyday objects made in Arkansas, which reflect the artistry, craftsmanship, creativity and vision of Arkansans.
Photographs, pottery, quilts, furniture, furnishings, jewelry and paintings-from 1850's cabinetry to 20th century baskets- strive to reflect the lives and loves of Arkansans from the early 1800's to the present.
To this end, the staff of the Historic Arkansas Museum has spent decades combing census records and newspapers to identify artisans, silversmiths, cabinet makers and portraitists, and more. They have travelled the state, looking for these 19th century works. Some have been added to the collections. Others have been documented. All have added to the understanding of Arkansas history and its sensibilities.
This research has culminated in the first two of a four volume set called "Arkansas Made: A survey of the Decorative, Mechanical and Fine Arts Produced in Arkansas, 1819-1870", and was published in 1990 and 1991 by the University of Arkansas Press. The 3rd and 4th volumes will comprise the 20th century.
We Walk in Two Worlds
This exhibit speaks to the history of the first inhabitants of Arkansas, the Caddo, Osage and Quapaw Indians. Their history is told through artifacts and research. About 160 objects of pottery, clothing and weapons are on display. There are six thematic areas, arranged chronologically. Included are passages of research from historians, archeologists and ethnographers.
During the two years preceding the exhibit, tribal members from each of the three tribes were extensively interviewed. Their voices come through the exhibit, educating and guiding visitors by their experiences and thought. This exhibit thus allows the museum to share a broader understanding of frontier life in Arkansas in the 1800's. To this end, the museum has developed related programming for all the school children of Arkansas, and the museum brings guest speakers and artists relating to the exhibits to the community at large.
More than a hundred knives are showcased in this exhibit, many from the antebellum period, of various sizes and shapes, many with ornate markings. The Bowie knife, considered Arkansas' most famous knife, was named after Jim Bowie. The exhibit includes the history and art of blacksmithing, as well as that of bladesmithing.
Jim Bowie became famous for his knife-fighting abilities in 1827. James Black, a blacksmith from Washington, Arkansas, made one, and possibly, two knives for Jim Bowie, thought to be in the collection. At the time of Bowie's death in 1836, at the Alamo, the bowie knife was well-established as a form of self-defense against the swords of the day.
Arkansas was the western frontier in the 1820's, as the bowie knife first made its appearance. But, by the time the Civil War came, bayonets, rifles and revolvers diminished its usefulness.
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pARTy for Peg
This exuberant, large white aluminum sculpture, made by Alice Guffrey Miller in 2010, to commemorate Peg Newton Smith's innumerable contributions, was made as a permanent exhibit to the north plaza of the main building of the museum. In this sculpture, square dancers and a fiddler, with Peg , are all dancing together. Visitors are invited to walk or dance among them. The artist asked for objects from all of Arkansas' 75 counties. Receiving them, she imbedding them into the sculpture's pedestals.
Five historical houses comprise the offerings at the Historic Arkansas Museum. Four of them were restored where they sit and one was transplanted from 20 miles away. All these properties are shown daily, on an alternating basis, as part of the museum's commitment to show Arkansas history as an interactive experience. The museum maintains a full-time bladesmith, who makes nails, horse shoes, knives and farm equipment at the blacksmith shop in the Homestead, (opened in 2011). Everything made and used here is original to the period. Living history is a big part of what makes the Historic Arkansas Museum unique in its desire to bring Arkansas history alive for everyone.
Woodruff Print Shop (1824)
William Woodruff moved to Arkansas from New York in 1819, and began printing the Arkansas Gazette, the territory's first newspaper. When Little Rock became the first territorial capital in 1821, he moved there, and for three years, from 1824-1827, he lived and worked from what has become one of the highlights of the museum. Inside this structure, meticulously reconstructed in 2010, are some of the original furnishings and a replica of the Ramage press that he brought with him to Arkansas by keelboat. The medicinal herb garden, dedicated to Mary Worthen, is comprised of native and imported plants, used by Native Americans and by the settlers for healing. It is maintained by the Arkansas Chapter of the Herb Society of America.
Plum Bayou Log House
In 1856, the house was found abandoned and in great disrepair by the Pemberton family, which repaired it when they first moved from North Carolina to Arkansas. Logs from ancient cypress were used, and the chimneys were made of brick. The house was moved 20 miles in the 1970's, to its current location on the northern side of the museum.
This was the Pemberton family's main house, and it's next to the log house, their original home. This is a working farm; it has a barn, a slave cabin, privy, smokehouse, blacksmith shop and raised garden beds. The Farmstead was home not only to the Pembertons, but to their slave, John Perry and his wife and two children. After the War, the Perrys elected to stay, becoming prosperous as farmers. The Farmstead is surrounded by a snake rail fence, common in the 1850's, added in 2005 to the property, as were the gardens and two log structures.
McVicar House - late 1840's
Built of white oak logs and square pegs, James McVicar built this wooden house, on the same block that his friend, Robert Brownlee, built his brick home. Both homes follow the symmetrical 1840's style with a large central hallway, bordered by two rooms of equal size. McVicar was single, ran the local penitentiary, owned slaves, was a Mason and a veteran of the Mexican War. He and his friend Brownlee left in 1849 to try their luck in California's Gold Rush. Later, McVicar returned to Little Rock, and married.
Hinderliter Grog Shop (1820's)
This building was made of logs in the mid 1820's by Jesse Hinderliter, and it served as both his home and business. With him lived his wife and two slaves, until 1834. Folklore says it is where the last meeting of the territorial legislature took place in 1835. The grog shop was made of red oak logs and of cypress flooring. It had a hand-carved federal mantel.
Robert Brownlee House
This federal brick house was built by Robert Brownlee in the late 1840's for his brother and sister-in-law. Brownlee was a Scottish stonemason, who moved to Little Rock in 1837 to help build the State House (now the Old State House Museum). Brownlee left for the California Gold Rush with his friend James McVicar in 1849.
Current exhibits vary in length from 2-3 months to a year's length. There is always an exhibit of current Arkansas art and interactive exhibits at the Sturgis Children's Gallery. Many current exhibits are showcased in 2nd Fridays, which spotlights a new exhibit every 2nd Friday of the month, usually with an Arkansas band or other musical entertainment, and often showcasing a different Arkansas brewery.
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Attraction Spotlight: Arkansas Governor’s Mansion
Located in Little Rock, the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion has served as the official residence for the state’s Governor and First Family since 1950 and is part of the city’s Governor’s Mansion Historic District. Until 1950, the state of Arkansas provided no official residence for its governor. Campaigns throughout the 1940s were enacted to change this policy, spearheaded by Agness Bass Shinn, president of the Arkansas Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Though an initial 1945 campaign failed to gain traction within the state’s legislature, a second campaign in 1947 resulted in the passage of Act 257, which allocated $100,000 to the creation of a Governor’s Mansion Commission.
The Commission selected the site of the former Arkansas School of the Blind, located at 1800 Center Street, as its future governor’s mansion site. A new structure was constructed on the property beginning in 1947, using salvaged bricks from the original School of the Blind as part of its foundational structure. Additional funding for the mansion’s construction came from 1949’s Act 401, resulting in the completion of the facility in 1950. Though no formal dedication was held for the facility, its occupancy beginning in February of 1950 by Governor Sidney S. McMath is widely considered as its official historical opening. Since 1950, 11 governors have held residence at the mansion, including Bill Clinton, who went on to be elected 42nd President of the United States, and Republican presidential primary candidate Mike Huckabee. After Clinton’s election as President, the mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Permanent Attractions and Exhibits
In addition to its use as a governor’s residence, the mansion is operated today as a living history museum, offering visitor tours of its eight-and-a-half-acre grounds and facilities. Tours are free and open to the public, although individual scheduling is necessary, as tour groups may only be accommodated on days when official state proceedings and events are not scheduled at the facility. Specialized tours are available for school groups, business groups, and other small groups and organizations. The three-story mansion was constructed in a colonial Georgian Revival style by Little Rock architectural firm Cromwell Architects, with dual colonnaded walkways linking the mansion facility to two cottages.
A Grand Foyer with a granite tile floor furnished by the Batesville Marble Company serves as a gathering place and starting point for tours. Three rooms are accessible on the mansion’s first floor, including the Formal Living Room, which serves as a formal meeting space for visiting dignitaries. The room contains the mansion’s oldest piece of furniture, an Irish cabinet clock manufactured in 1770 and given as a gift to 35th Arkansas Governor Francis Cherry. A State Dining Room, hosting formal state dinners, contains 24 Chippendale-style chair with handcrafted needlepoint seats arranged around a Duncan-Phyfe Empire table, with a French Louis XVI chandelier anchored around a hand-blown bell hung above. The dining room also contains the Heppelwhite sideboard, which houses pieces from the U.S.S. Arkansas’ silver collection, including a punch bowl crafted from 3,000 silver dollars collected by the state’s students. The mansion’s Library, which serves as a meeting place for talks with legislators, contains a small book collection donated by Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The back porch of the mansion is now enclosed by a large glass Atrium, which connects the facility to a Grand Hall constructed in 2003. A 220-seat ballroom space, the Grand Hall serves as a site for formal receptions, containing a staircase with a runner displaying the names of all of the state’s governors since 1950. A six-by-eight-foot chandelier, named the Arkansas Chandelier, utilizes native rock crystal to create adornments representing state emblems such as the state flower, state tree, and state insect. The Lower Atrium area serves as a small art gallery, highlighting multidisciplinary works by Arkansas artists and crafters, along with a portrait gallery of all gubernatorial residents of the mansion.
The mansion’s grounds were re-landscaped in 2006 by P. Allen Smith and are divided today into several distinct garden spaces. An Entrance Garden in front of the mansion features a bronze bust sculpture of Bill Clinton, while a Parterre Garden off the Grand Hall is arranged in a diamond pattern to symbolize the state’s diamond production. Other gardens include a Rose Garden, a Vegetable Garden, which contains a miniature mansion children’s play area, and an Herbary, originally cultivated in 1978.
In addition to its notoriety as an historic landmark, the mansion has also been popularized in modern media as a film set, used as a home for prominent characters on the television shows Designing Women and 30 Rock.
1800 Center St, Little Rock, AR 72206, Phone: 501-324-9805
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