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    Natural Heritage

  1. Are there any extinct animals that used to live in Arkansas? Response

    Old State House

  2. Are those real fireplaces in the 1836 House of Representatives chamber? Response
  3. Are tours available? Response
  4. Did someone really ride a horse up the central hallway stairs? Response
  5. How much does it cost to see the museum? Response
  6. How often do the exhibits change? Response
  7. Is anyone buried on the grounds of the Old State House Museum? Response
  8. Is there a ballroom in the Old State House? Response
  9. Was there a Civil War battle on this site? Response
  10. Was there a fight in the 1836 House of Representative chamber? Response
  11. What are the floors in the Museum made of? Response
  12. What kinds of trees are on the front lawn? Response
  13. When Bill Clinton was Governor, was his office in this building? Response
  14. When did the Old State House become a museum? Response
  15. When was the iron fence installed across the front lawn of the Old State House? Response
  16. When was the Old State House built? Response
  17. Where has President Clinton been inside the Old State House? Response
  18. Where was the water fountain when President Clinton was re-elected and made his acceptance speech on the lawn in November 1996? Response
  19. Why are the lights so dim in the First Families exhibit? Response
  20. Why is the building so close to the river? Why does the Markham Street side of the Old State House look different from the Arkansas River side? Response
  21. Why is there a cannon on the front lawn? Do the cannon balls fit the cannon? Response

  1. Are there any extinct animals that used to live in Arkansas?
    There are all types of interesting extinct animals that used to live in Arkansas. Recently discovered fossil records for prehistoric mammals indicate that the giant sloth lived in the state. In the 1700s and 1800s, herds of bison and buffalo lived on our prairies. The Carolina parakeet was observed by early European settlers, as well.
  2. Are those real fireplaces in the 1836 House of Representatives chamber?
    The fireplaces you see today are recreations of the fireplaces used in 1885, but they are in their original 1836 locations. The fireplaces were only used for a short time, as legislators quickly learned that the room was too large to be adequately heated in this way. By the 1840s, the fireplaces were replaced with wood-burning stoves, which lasted until the 1880s, when central heating was installed. While the mantels may look like marble, they are actually made of wood. They were first painted that way in 1885, to make them look more expensive than they actually were. In 1836, when Arkansas became a state, the fireplaces simply looked like painted wood.
  3. Are tours available?
    Yes. You may make reservations to go on a guided tour, or you may take a map at the front desk, and go on a self-guided tour. Adult or school groups with 10 or more need to make a reservation for a tour at least two weeks in advance.
  4. Did someone really ride a horse up the central hallway stairs?
    No. The story of Albert Pike taking a horse up the great, curving staircase in the early 1800s is merely a legend that emphasizes the larger than life personality of Pike. Not only would it be quite difficult to get a horse into the state capitol and up the stairs, the curving staircase was not installed until 1885.
  5. How much does it cost to see the museum?
    It's free of charge. Donations are accepted.
  6. How often do the exhibits change?
    The museum has two temporary exhibits that change annually. The rest are permanent exhibits.
  7. Is anyone buried on the grounds of the Old State House Museum?
    No. The museum has a monument garden, located on the east side of the building, with markers commemorating different people and organizations that contributed to the many eras of Arkansas history.
  8. Is there a ballroom in the Old State House?
    No. The large room upstairs that overlooks the Arkansas River is the 1885 House of Representatives Chamber. It was used for state government purposes--not entertaining.
  9. Was there a Civil War battle on this site?
    No. When the Union troops entered the city under General Steele in September 1863, the Confederate army fled to Washington, Arkansas. This left the capitol building unoccupied, so Steele used the building for his headquarters without any bloodshed. However, there was a month-long battle in 1874 over the gubernatorial election. This conflict, in which approximately 50 people were either killed or wounded, was called the Brooks-Baxter War.
  10. Was there a fight in the 1836 House of Representative chamber?
    Yes. In 1836, Representative J.J. Anthony and Speaker of the House John Wilson got into an argument over proposed legislation. Tension quickly increased between the two men. Wilson drew a knife and stabbed Anthony, who died on the chamber floor.
  11. What are the floors in the Museum made of?
    The floor in the central hallway was originally made of brick, but was replaced with concrete in 1885. A second concrete floor was laid in 1949, shortly before the building became a museum. The floors on the second story were originally made of wood. Visitors today to those galleries are standing on quarter-sawn pine, which was also installed in 1949.
  12. What kinds of trees are on the front lawn?
    Oak, Live Oak, Magnolia, Dogwood and Sycamore.
  13. When Bill Clinton was Governor, was his office in this building?
    No. His office was in the current state capitol building.
  14. When did the Old State House become a museum?
    The Arkansas State Legislature passed legislation in 1947 to save the building from destruction. In 1951, the State House officially became a museum of Arkansas history.
  15. When was the iron fence installed across the front lawn of the Old State House?
    The fence was installed circa 1870. The fence posts, which at one time had cannon balls on their tops, were changed out in the 1920s.
    Eagles subsequently decorate the posts instead of artillery.
  16. When was the Old State House built?
    Construction began on this building in 1833, three years before Arkansas actually became a state. After Arkansas became a state in June 1836, state offices moved into the building and began using it, even though the building was not officially completed until 1842.
  17. Where has President Clinton been inside the Old State House?
    In 1992, President Clinton used many of the main areas to hold a press conference when he announced his Cabinet appointments from the 1885 House of Representatives Chamber. On Election Night in 1996, his campaign team used the Riverfront Room as a "Ready Room." The Supreme Court chamber was used as the Communications Room. Then he, Hilary and Chelsea walked out from the Central Hallway onto the platform.
  18. Where was the water fountain when President Clinton was re-elected and made his acceptance speech on the lawn in November 1996?
    The fountain had actually been partially dismantled in order to support the platform that President Clinton spoke from when he made his re-election acceptance speech on November 5, 1996. The platform went up to, around, and "atop" the fountain.
  19. Why are the lights so dim in the First Families exhibit?
    Just like people require certain things to be comfortable in certain environments, so do old textiles. Temperature, humidity, and light are some of the things that we can and do control in order to slow down the rate of deterioration. The cases in this exhibit are specially designed to maintain a steady temperature and to regulate the amount of humidity inside. The lights, which are motion-activated, are kept at a low level to prevent bleaching or other damage to the fabrics.
  20. Why is the building so close to the river? Why does the Markham Street side of the Old State House look different from the Arkansas River side?
    In 1836, the river was actually the primary mode of transportation for goods, livestock and people. The capitol was therefore situated to overlook the Arkansas River and to be seen (and admired) by all who traveled by boat. Originally, the building was built with identical north and south facades-with four columns supporting the portico-in the Greek Revival style of architecture popular at that time. In 1885, when the building was enlarged, workers took off the columns and portico on the river side and extended the building 60 feet toward the river. The Greek Revival style was no longer popular, so the columns and porch were not put back on the north facade of the building.
  21. Why is there a cannon on the front lawn? Do the cannon balls fit the cannon?
    Known today as Lady Baxter, it is an 8" Naval colombiad cannon. It was first used in 1861 on a gunboat in New Orleans, and was later moved to Fort Hindman (Arkansas Post). In 1863, the cannon was brought to Little Rock and placed on the North side of the State House. When the Union troops invaded Little Rock, the Confederates disabled it. In April 1874, during the height of the Brooks-Baxter War, Baxter's supporters found and repaired it, then placed it on Markham Street. While it was never used during the conflict, it was fired once in celebration of the conclusion of the Brooks-Baxter War. The cannon balls that are with the cannon today are not the original cannon balls, and do not fit Lady Baxter. They are merely stacked in front of the cannon until the 1970's, when they were finally soldered together.