LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Little Rock’s history lives on in the memories of those who live here and is shown in the buildings that call it home, but preservationists said these historic properties are in danger of disappearing for good, and one family knows that better than anyone.
The Tucker family lived at 4601 Kavanaugh Blvd. for decades. But the home houses more than just fond memories; a key player in the Little Rock desegregation crisis lived there, and the architecture made it a unique property for the neighborhood. Now, it’s just debris – another historic home gone for good.
The building was the family home of Kathryn Tucker, who’s grandparents lived in the Heights manor for years.
“I had always dreamt of being able to buy it back at some point,” Tucker said. “There were beautiful wood floors all through the house, there was wood paneling all through the den.”
Besides the loss of a beautiful home, the teardown also impacts the city’s history.
The Tucker’s grandfather was Everett Tucker, the former Little Rock School Board president during the “lost year” of 1958-1959, when Little Rock high schools were closed amid the desegregation crisis.
“A piece of the community’s soul is in that house,” said Clarke Tucker, who had visited the home since he was an infant. “I know there were a lot of meetings that took place at the house during that time that really were important for the community.”
Advocates for the preservation of historic homes say these teardowns are now all too common. The Quapaw Quarter Association has made it their mission to vouch for historic properties, but there’s not much that can be done to save them once they’re sold.
“What we’re grappling with is losing that tangible connection to our past,” explained Patricia Blick, executive director of the QQA. “If this building was listed on the national register, the owner of the property could donate a historic preservation easement on it,” a move that saves the home in perpetuity.
But that needs to be done by owners before it’s sold, or else the property could be changed or even torn down.
For the Tuckers, it’s too late. But they want to enact change so this doesn’t happen to other families, and Little Rock’s history isn’t erased for good.
The most recent owner of the home, Laura Reeves, shared her thoughts on the leveling.
“We had hoped and assumed that someone would further our love for this early Prospect Terrace home. Being the 3rd family to live here, our 12 years was too short. We never dreamed it would be torn down,” Reeves said.
KARK4 reached out to the new developers of the site to see what will replace the home, but have not received a response yet.