LITTLE ROCK—Preserve Arkansas’s 2019 Most Endangered Places list includes one of the state’s last motion picture palaces, according to a press release Wednesday.
The group listed the Saenger Theater in Pine Bluff, (Jefferson County), a 1924 motion picture palace, one of the last of its kind in Arkansas. Groups have tried to restore the theater in the past, but it has been vacant for a decade. The restoration of the theater has the potential to play an integral role in the revitalization of downtown Pine Bluff, a press release from Preserve Arkansas said.
The list also includes a Rosenwald School, rural churches that are the linchpins of their respective communities, commercial buildings with ties to Arkansas’s Jewish and Chinese merchants, and the home of a well-known African American attorney and civic leader.
The announcement took place on May 1 at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock.
“2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the Most Endangered Places list in Arkansas, and we look forward to assisting this year’s properties and refocusing our advocacy efforts on past listings as well,” said Rachel Patton, executive director of Preserve Arkansas.
Arkansas’s Most Endangered Places Program began in 1999 to raise awareness of historically and architecturally significant properties throughout the state that are facing threats such as deterioration, neglect, insufficient resources, and insensitive development. Preserve Arkansas solicited nominations from individuals and organizations throughout the state. The list is updated each year to generate discussion and support for saving the places that matter to Arkansas.
Properties named to the 2019 list are as follows:
· Adler Building, Batesville (Independence County), an 1881 commercial building constructed by Jewish merchant Simon Adler. The back wall recently collapsed, making traditional financing options for rehabilitation difficult to secure.
· Chu Building, Forrest City (St. Francis County), a ca. 1915 building that housed a Chinese grocery and an African American theater. Fundraising is needed to convert it into a multicultural museum and archives facility.
· Emmet United Methodist Church, Emmet (Nevada County), a 1917 Colonial Revival-style church that serves a small but devoted congregation. The church has applied for a grant to stabilize the building, but additional fundraising is necessary.
· Scipio A. Jones House, Little Rock (Pulaski County), the 1928 home of Scipio Jones, prominent African American attorney and civic leader. The home is unsecured and in poor condition. It is currently for sale and eligible for historic tax credits.
· Malvern Rosenwald School, Malvern (Hot Spring County), a 1929 school for African Americans built with assistance from the Julius Rosenwald Fund. The building is vacant, and deterioration has now reached a critical point.
· Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church & Cemetery, Marvell (Phillips County), a 1957 church built to replace an earlier structure, with an adjacent cemetery containing historic burials. The Mt. Olive Church and Cemetery are dear to this rural farming community, but structural and safety issues need to be resolved to keep the location viable.
Preserve Arkansas is the statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to building stronger communities by reconnecting Arkansans to our heritage and empowering people to save and rehabilitate historic places. For more information about Preserve Arkansas, please contact Rachel Patton at 501-372-4757, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.PreserveArkansas.org.