Old State House (Little Rock)

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Old State House
Old State Capitol Building, Markham & Center Streets, Little Rock (Pulaski County, Arkansas).jpg
The south front of the State house in 1934
Location 300 West Markham, Little Rock, Arkansas
Coordinates 34°44′56.3″N 92°16′19.42″W / 34.748972°N 92.2720611°W / 34.748972; -92.2720611Coordinates: 34°44′56.3″N 92°16′19.42″W / 34.748972°N 92.2720611°W / 34.748972; -92.2720611
Built 1836
Architect Gideon Shryock; George Weigart
Architectural style Greek Revival
NRHP Reference # 69000037
Significant dates
Added to NRHP December 03, 1969[1]
Designated NHL December 9, 1997[2]

The Old State House, also known as the Arkansas State House, is the home of the Old State House Museum. It is the oldest surviving state capitol building west of the Mississippi River. It is known best as the site of President Bill Clinton's election night celebrations in 1992 and 1996.[3]


The Arkansas State House (2008 view)

The Old State House was commissioned by Territorial Governor John Pope and was constructed between 1833 and 1842. Architect Gideon Shryock, who had previously designed the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, chose a Greek Revival style for the building. The original design was too expensive for the territory, so Shryock's assistant George Weigart changed the plans and oversaw construction.

Both houses of the Arkansas General Assembly moved into the building while construction was ongoing. In 1837 a fatal knife fight between legislators in the Arkansas House of Representatives occurred in the legislative chamber.

During the American Civil War the building was used by Union troops occupying Little Rock. During Reconstruction the building was an object of contention in the so-called Brooks–Baxter War and the building was fortified during that struggle. The "Lady Baxter" cannon still remains on the grounds.

The building was used as the official state capitol until the new capitol building was constructed in 1912. For a time the building was used as a medical school.

The Old State House was renamed as the Arkansas War Memorial and was used as an office building for federal and state agencies as well as a meeting place for patriotic organizations.

In 1947 the General Assembly approved acts designating the Old State House as a museum. The museum front entrance was the site of President Bill Clinton's presidential campaign announcement[4] and the site of his election night celebrations in both of his campaigns for the presidency.[3] The building underwent major renovation in 1996.

It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997.[2][5]

The building continues to serve as a museum with exhibits related to Arkansas history and culture. Permanent collections include Civil War battle flags, the inaugural gowns of the First Ladies of Arkansas, Arkansas art pottery, and African-American quilts. Special exhibits are staged periodically as well.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "Old State House, Little Rock". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-26. 
  3. ^ a b "Old State House Museum - Arkansas Old State House - Arkansas State House Museum". Retrieved 30 December 2016. 
  4. ^ "Old State House Museum". Retrieved 30 December 2016. 
  5. ^ Cynthia DeHaven Pitcock (July 29, 1997). "National Historic Landmark Nomination: Old State House" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-06-22  and Accompanying 42 photos, exterior and interior, from 1996-1997 (7.95 MB)

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