The Quapaw Quarter Association has issued a press release on its unsuccessful efforts to stave off the demolition of the Bruner House at 1415 Cantrell Road and the house next door, at 1407 Cantrell, including two letters it wrote the Episcopal Collegiate School and Stephens Inc.
We reported here yesterday that mantels and other architectural components of the house are being salvaged by an Alabama company, Southern Accents.
The letters note that the houses are not in a historic district and could only be protected by the conservation efforts of their owners, and says their destruction should prompt debate about the loss of Little Rock's historic buildings. The 2009 demolition of buildings on the west side of the 400 block of Main Street, including the old Kempner building and the Center Theater — also by Stephens — prompted a preservation plan for the city, useless without the creation of historic districts.
The QQA release:
You may be aware that 1407 and 1415 Cantrell Road are slated for demolition soon. It is with deep regret that we watch these houses come down; they are structurally sound and would be appropriate for many uses.
In April of 2011 when the QQA learned that these and one other house had changed hands, we reached out to the new owners in a number of ways and offered to help find new uses. We also provided several examples of historic houses that have been incorporated into learning institution campuses.
Because the houses are not in a protected district, few options were available to us beyond persuading the new owners of the value and potential of the houses. Unfortunately, we received little response to our recommendations and offers of assistance.
The Bruner-Hammond House at 1415 Cantrell Road is individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places. However, this is an honorary designation that does not protect the house from demolition. In Little Rock, the only historic buildings protected from demolition are within the MacArthur Park Historic District and the Capitol Zoning District. Many property owners in other parts of town take advantage of incentives and see historic preservation as a smart investment, but they are not required to do so.
We hope the unfortunate loss of these historic houses will spur new dialogue about how we, as a community, can encourage smarter development practices and prevent further loss of our historic fabric. We can do this by creating more local historic districts and implementing better preservation policy at the city level. We welcome your ideas and involvement.