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
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.
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.
New Mosaic Templars Cultural Center at Ninth and Broadway
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.
Partnership Launches Fund to Aid in Reconstruction
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
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.
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.
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."
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
Photos by Ken Hubbell and Associates (www.kenhubbell.com)
- March 16, 2005
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.
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 email@example.com.
More information about the fire can be found on the following websites:
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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
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
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!