Mosaic Templars Building Preservation Society
Mission
Future Plans
Artifacts & Photos
How You Can Help
Project News
Mosaic Templars History
History of Ninth Street
Home Page
The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail
Mosaic Templars Building Preservation Society Mosaic Templars Building Preservation Society Project News
Project News


The Arkansas Legislature created the Mosaic Templars of America Center for African American Culture and Business Enterprise during the 2001 legislative session. This Center will become a state agency under the direction of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. After rehabilitation of the historic Mosaic Templars Headquarters, the Center will be housed at 9th & Broadway.

Please visit this page for news and project updates as they become available.

History is Reborn in New Cultural Center and Publication

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center will hold it's grand opening gala starting at 11:00AM on Saturday, September 20. To coincide with the grand opening, the University of Arkansas Press has re-released "History of the Mosaic Templars of America: Its Founders and Officials," a book originally published in 1924 and chronicled the birth of the organization and the colorful stories of the men and women who built one of the largest black-owned business enterprises in the world at the turn of the last century. This book is now available and can be purchased online.

Mosaic Templars Launch Children's Education Series

The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center's education staff has developed a series of in-classroom programs for grades K-12 as well as lesson plans and other teacher materials related to the Mosaic Templars and Little Rock's West Ninth Street. Please visit the Center's website for a complete listing of classes!

Construction Progress: Original Pediment Salvaged

The Original Pediment was Salvaged and Installed as a Display

Construction is nearly complete on the new building that will house the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. The museum was originally supposed to be housed in the historic Mosaic Templars of America Headquarters Building located at West Ninth and Broadway Streets in downtown Little Rock; however a fire destroyed the ninety-two year old historic building on March 16, 2005. The new Mosaic Templars Cultural Center has been designed to reflect the architecture and vision of the original Headquarters Building, which served as an anchor to the thriving black business district along West Ninth Street.

New Mosaic Templars Cultural Center at Ninth and Broadway
The new structure will reflect the early twentieth century commercial-style architecture of the original building, including a red brick facade, square pilasters, and neoclassical style cornices. The new building design will incorporate two remaining portions of the original structure: the entry way consisting of original 1913 brick and the pre-cast concrete pediment as well as the Headquarters Building's original granite cornerstone. The exterior will closely resemble the original four-story structure, however the interior has been designed to house a 7,500 square foot exhibit space on the first floor; staff offices, an oral history studio, and a genealogy center on the second floor; and an auditorium occupying the third and fourth floors of the museum for public events. The Cultural Center's opening exhibits will interpret the business enterprise of Arkansas's African Americans as well as accomplishments in politics, civil rights, and the arts. The third floor auditorium will resemble the original Temple Auditorium, including a horseshoe-shaped balcony and a stage with proscenium opening.

The project will cost approximately $7 million. While the Department of Arkansas Heritage has secured $4 million towards the construction of the new structure, $2.5 million is still needed for the project's completion -- $1.5 million to finish the Center's third-floor auditorium and an additional $1 million to fund the Center's opening exhibits.

Downtown Partnership Launches Fund to Aid in Reconstruction

Photo Courtesy: Today's THV Channel 11

On March 17, 2005 at a luncheon for the Downtown Partnership, Sharon Priest, executive director of the Downtown Partnership, announced that the Partnership has started a fund to aid in the reconstruction of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, which was devastated by fire on March 16. This fund was launched with a $1,000 donation. For more information, contact 501-375-0121.

The following is excerpted from a press release from the Downtown Partnership:

The Downtown Partnership announced today at its annual meeting that the Downtown Partnership will assist in preserving and rebuilding The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, a valuable part of downtown?s history. The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the future home of a museum on African-American culture, was destroyed by a fire Wednesday morning.

Photo Courtesy: Today's THV Channel 11

Twin City Bank, neighbor to the Center at 9th and Broadway, will partner with The Downtown Partnership in providing a depository for private contributions made to rebuild the Center. The Partnership and TCB will both donate $1000 to the depository.

Sharon Priest, Downtown Partnership Executive Director, said ?Not only was the building significant to downtown, the history it represents is significant.? The Headquarters Building, constructed in 1911 under the supervision of local Civil Engineer and Surveyor, Frank M. Blaisdell, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Contributions can be made to the ?Mosaic Templar Phoenix Fund? and sent to P.O. Box 16270, Little Rock 72231. The account will be owned by the Downtown Partnership so that contributors can take advantage of the Partnership?s 501 (c)3 tax deductible status. Other banks and institutions may use the name and address of the fund to promote without having to identify TCB.

Emergency Meeting Held

In response to the fire that leveled the Mosaic Templars of America Headquarters Building, the board of the Mosaic Templars of America Building Preservation Society held an emergency meeting late in the evening on March 16, 2005. The Preservation Society plans to release a formal statement detailing the decisions made at the meeting by March 24, 2005.

During a press conference at the Capitol rotunda, lawmakers, state and city leaders reaffirmed that the original vision for the building will endure despite this heartbreaking setback. Plans are already in motion to use some of the original; bricks from the building for a new one in the same location.

Cathie Matthews with the Arkansas Department of Heritage said, "I?m here to say that we are very committed to rebuilding the building."

Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey also said, "It [the Mosaic Templars Headquarters Building] was not going to become a parking lot then. It's not going to be a parking lot today."

Left: Ellen Carpenter speaking flanked by elected officials. Right: Senator Tracy Steele with Mrs. Ellen Carpenter (Chair of Mosaic Templars Advisory Board) flanked by Cathie Matthews, Senator Irma Hunter Brown, and other elected officials.

Photos by Ken Hubbell and Associates (www.kenhubbell.com) - March 16, 2005

Fire Seriously Damages Building

On March 16, 2005, a fire devastated the historic Mosaic Templars of America Headquarters Building at the corner of Ninth Street and Broadway. Despite the loss of this valuable treasure, the Department of Arkansas Heritage plans to preserve what remains of the building and rebuild the structure, which will house the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

Thankfully, all of the research and archived collections that will make up the Center's programs and exhibits are safe at other locations. These oral history stories and valuable artifacts will be used to tell the story of African American life in Arkansas and honor the memory those who persevered for the purpose of equality.

If you would like to find out more information about how the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center plans to respond to this disaster, or if you would like to help or make a donation, please contact the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center at (501) 683-3593 or email constance@arkansasheritage.org.

More information about the fire can be found on the following websites:

Photos by Ken Hubbell and Associates (www.kenhubbell.com) - March 16, 2005

 

Past Project News

Governor Holds Press Conference at Mosaic Templars Building
Joyce Williams with Little Rock Vice Mayor Willie HintonOver the next ten years, the people of Little Rock will have the privilege of witnessing a renaissance of the Ninth Street business district. On July 1, 2003, Little Rock Vice Mayor Willie Hinton presented a key to Gov. Mike Huckabee, turning over ownership of the 22,000-square-foot Mosaic Templars of America Headquarters Building to the state.

The July ceremony was a key step in the process of restoring the landmark building, which will soon house a state cultural center that will celebrate black culture and business enterprise from the 1870s to the present. Members of the Mosaic Templars Building Preservation Society, including John Cain and Ellen Carpenter, have been tirelessly working for 15 years to breathe new life into the building at the corner of Ninth Street and Broadway. During the ceremony, they expressed deep gratitude to all who had struggled with them to save the building as well as to the Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH) and Ken Hubbell and Associates.

In 2002, DAH contracted with Ken Hubbell and Associates to create the cultural center's master plan, which outlines a restoration-project with a three-phase development cycle costing over $8.6 million.

This project includes adaptive reuse of the commercial ground floor as a modern exhibit space. A preserved suite of second-floor offices will house the center's staff, and the third-floor auditorium and fourth-floor balcony will host various performing arts series featuring concerts, plays, and films. The master plan also calls for the rebuilding of the 13,000-square-foot annex, which was destroyed by fire in the 1990s.

The first phase of the restoration is scheduled for completion in late spring 2005, and the entire project will be completed in ten years, depending on funding. This initial phase has been financed by a capital improvement appropriation by the state Legislature over the past two years. Additional funds were also provided through a $1.45 million grant from the Arkansas Natural Cultural Resources Center.

The Department of Arkansas Heritage also received a two-year grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) totaling $109,205 to begin the collection of oral histories and research to develop educational programs and exhibits for the center. If you would like to be a part of this project, please call 501-372-1716 or email info@mosaictemplarspreservation.org.

The building, dedicated by Booker T. Washington in 1913, once housed the Mosaic Templars of America, an influential fraternal organization that provided burial insurance to blacks. As the organization grew, it seeded the birth of a building-and-loan association, a newspaper, a hospital and health insurance program, and other social benefits. At its zenith, the organization's membership numbered in the tens of thousands with chapters in 26 states and foreign countries.

Building Restoration Underway and Community History Project Funded!

In May 2003, the Arkansas Legislature approved 2 staff positions (Director and Admin. Asst) for the Mosaic Templars Center for African American Culture and Business Enterprise. In addition, the Department of Arkansas Heritage secured a $1.45 million grant from the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council for exterior renovation and converting the first floor of the Mosaic Templars Headquarters building to museum space and initial offices.

The Department of Arkansas Heritage also received a two-year grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) totaling $109,205 to begin the collection of oral histories based upon the priorities set in the Master Plan.

In the first year, the WRF funds will be used to record 50 interviews with individuals who were closely connected to life on Ninth Street from the 1930s to present. The Master Plan Team, Ken Hubbell & Associates, will also collect and archive documents, pictures, and artifacts.

In the second year, all of this work will be compiled into a television documentary and an interactive CD, which will be distributed by the new Mosaic Templars Center to various educational institutions.

'REMEMBERING ARKANSAS : Mosaics? helping hand reached out from Ninth Street'
TOM W. DILLARD
Recent news reports tell of renewed efforts to save a building significant to the history of black Arkansans ? the Mosaic Templars of America headquarters at the southwest corner of Ninth Street and Broadway in Little Rock. The imposing structure has been boarded up for decades, and a casual observer would never know that the building was a seedbed of black social and entrepreneurial history. Click to read more!

'Museum makers acquire Templars? building deed'
The Little Rock Board of Directors has voted to transfer the deed for the Mosaic Templars? building, which housed the influential black business organization started after the Civil War, to the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Click to read more!

Project News




Mission | Future Plans | Artifacts & Photos | How You Can Help | Project News |
History of Mosaic Templars | History of Ninth Street |
Home |

Mosaic Templars Building Preservation Society

MOSAIC TEMPLAR BUILDING PRESERVATION SOCIETY
P.O. Box 45674
Little Rock, AR 72214-5674
For information regarding the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center hours of operation or special events, please visit their website at www.mosaictemplarscenter.org
info@mosaictemplarspreservation.org

© 2009 MOSAIC TEMPLAR BUILDING PRESERVATION SOCIETY
All Rights Reserved
Designed and Programmed by Aristotle®
Site Architecture & Content by Ken Hubbell & Associates