Plans are within the works to maneuver the Latimore Vacationer Residence in Russellville 2½ blocks down the road to a brand new location this summer time.
Then, hopefully, the historic however dilapidated home will be restored.
“Really this can be a last-ditch effort, and I feel it’ll be actually profitable,” stated Betsy McGuire, vp of the board of Buddies of the Latimore Vacationer Residence, 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 Nineteen Seventies.
“Operated by Eugene Latimore and Cora Wilson Latimore and their daughter Anna, the house provided short-term lodging for African People, a lot of whom labored on the railroad,” in response to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas. “Eugene Latimore additionally labored as a veterinarian.”
Throughout the Jim Crow period, Black individuals touring by means of 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 Guide in 1936, a list of companies that have been pleasant to Black clients.
“With the introduction of this journey information in 1936, it has been our concept to present the Negro traveler data that may hold him from working into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his journeys extra gratifying,” learn the introduction to the 1949 Inexperienced Guide.
The Latimore house was listed in annual editions of the Inexperienced Guide revealed from 1939 by means of 1966 and was the one lodging listed for Black vacationers between North Little Rock and Fort Smith from 1948 by means of 1966. Publication of the Inexperienced Guide was suspended throughout World Battle II however resumed in 1947.
“Carry your Inexperienced Guide with you … You could 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 method 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 couple of 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 the moment situated, wants that lot for growth, McGuire stated.
Richard Harris turned mayor of Russellville in 2019 and shortly started on the lookout 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 doubtless razed it,” he stated.
Harris stated the church wasn’t occupied 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 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 Avenue from James College Park, as soon as the location 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 Part I of the Latimore Vacationer Residence venture.
“Part I is to get the house moved,” McGuire stated. “Then the laborious work of restoration and rehabilitation will happen.”
Part I is estimated to price $77,000, in response to the grant utility. Apart from the $20,000 price of bodily shifting the home, Part I contains $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 will bodily transfer the home someday in August.
She stated Part II, the restoration, might price $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 stated.
She stated it has been a public-private partnership, and the brand new Latimore home website will change into metropolis property.
McGuire, who can be chair of the Russellville Historic District Fee, stated she does not know precisely how the home might be used after it is moved and restored, though it might function a gathering or occasion heart.
“I might wish to see them flip it right into a bed-and-breakfast and put it on the Civil Rights Path,” Harris stated. “I feel it could 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 College Park neighborhood.”
“I attribute a variety 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 have been invaluable. My friends and I gained a way of neighborhood satisfaction and the glory of representing it. The Latimore house would function a bridge to attach at the 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 Buddies of the Latimore Vacationer Residence, wrote that he’s a lifelong resident of the neighborhood. He remembered when the roads have been dust and there was no park.
“We’re happy with the historical past that we’ve got 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 Guide ceased publication in 1967, shortly after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 opened public services (a minimum of in idea) to all People.
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.