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Monthly archives: July, 2010

Bridge May Open First Week in August

According to a news source (WXVT-Greenville), the bridge opening has been delayed and will likely open next week–August 1-7.

http://www.wxvt.com/global/story.asp?s=12887342

Rain Stalls Bridge Opening

Posted: July 28, 2010 07:13 PM

Two days after a ribbon cutting, transportation officials say the opening of the new Mississippi River Bridge, connecting Greenville, Miss., to Lake Village, Ark., may be delayed.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation had said the bridge would open on Wednesday, July 28. However, as the Monday dedication grew closer, officials said the opening would be at a later, unspecified date. During the dedication, they hoped to have it ready by the end of the week.

On Wednesday, MDOT project engineer Steele Davis said inclement weather has delayed completion of the final stages of construction. That work includes paving the road connecting the new bridge to U.S. Highway 82. Davis says the opening may be during the week of Aug. 1-7.



5K Run/Walk on New Bridge

Some scenes from this morning’s 5K Run/Walk across the new bridge:

Looking down the River: Arkansas on the Right, Mississippi on the Left

I just love expansion joints

Old Bridge


Bridge Opening…more details

New — Invitation
Old — Postcard Commemorating the Old New Bridge

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New details about the Bridge opening from the Lake Village Chamber:

A ribbon cutting for the new Hwy 82 Mississippi River Bridge will take place this coming Monday, July 26th at 10am on the center of the bridge. Everyone and anyone is invited to attend! (Don’t worry about parking, there will be hwy department folks there to guide you. Some of the parking may be on the bridge, but in my opinion, you should still wear your walking shoes because it’s not certain how many people with attend the event, so some walking is inevitable.) A stage will be set up at the center of the bridge where the ribbon cutting will take place.
The city of Greenville, MS is hosting a 5K run/walk to commensurate the grand opening on Monday, July 26th at 6am. Come one, come all, it’s FREE! The run/walk will start on the Greenville side of the bridge.
Brianne Connelly
Director
Lake Village Chamber of Commerce


New Signs At Lakeport

The Arkansas Highway Department installed two news tourist oriented directional signs yesterday: one at the entrance to Lakeport and the other for eastbound traffic on Hwy 82. The Highway Department will install a westbound traffic sign when the contractor has completed the removal of the povement for the old alignment of Hwy 82

New sign at Lakeport’s entrance

New eastbound sign on Hwy 82 (at foot of new bridge) for Hwy 142 turnoff
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Bridge Opening and Saturday Hours

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Lakeport will be closed during the Bridge Dedication Ceremony–10 am, Monday, July 26, 2010. We will reopen following the ceremony.
We will be open Saturdays the rest of the Summer and through the Fall. As of right now, Saturday hours are 10 am until 4 pm; but we may reevaluate those hours later.
Call us or email us if you have questions: 870-265-6031; lakeport.ar@gmail.com


Remembering the Old Bridge; Getting Ready for the New

Alvin, Katie & Mary Jane Ford on Greenville Bridge, ca. 1952. Photo found behind Dining Room Mantel at Lakeport
This post is a companion to today’s Southern Fried Blog, where Rex Nelson looks back at the old Greenville Bridge. The old bridge is slated for demolition later this year, since no one has offered to relocate it.

Greenville-Lake Village Bridge postcard, ca. 1955.
As the bridge opened in 1940, the Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, MS) reported the ferry operation of the Greenville Bridge & Ferry Co. was transporting “200 to 300 cars, plus trucks and busses” each day.
Delta Democrat-Times, September 15, 1940
“Visit Beautiful Lake Village Over the Free Bridge,” Delta Democrat-Times, October 29, 1950
As the new Bridge opens, Lake Village would like to welcome visitors again. Come see Paul Michaels, the Cow Pen, Lake Chicot, Lakeshore Cafe, Rhoda, and Lakeport Plantation.

The new bridge will be dedicated at 10 am on Monday, July 26 and will open to traffic on Wednesday, July 28. Lakeport will be open Saturday, July 31. I’ll post more about our Saturday hours tomorrow.

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Bridge Opening Dedication set for July 26

Bridge Dedication — July 26 — 10 am


Greenville US Highway 82 bridge dedication planned for July 26

By Associated Press

4:23 AM CDT, July 13, 2010

GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) — The new U.S. Highway 82-Greenville Bridge is scheduled to open for traffic on July 28.
The dedication ceremony is July 26. The first contract was awarded in 2001 and construction began in 2002.
Washington County Board of Supervisors president Paul Watson says transportation officials in Mississippi and Arkansas are working on the details.
The four-lane, cable-stayed bridge has been many years in the making. It was authorized when the existing bridge, built in 1940, was determined to be a navigational hazard and obsolete.
The old two-lane bridge crosses the Mississippi River just south of a sharp bend. Tow boats have difficulty completing that turn and straightening up in time to clear the bridge. Numerous barge/bridge collisions have happened over the years.



Recent Media


A few items related to Lakeport and history in general appeared in the media recently.


First, the Log Cabin Democrat (Conway, AR) published a little story about the restoration of our piano back on June 29.

Second, that story was picked up by the AP and republished in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (behind pay wall) on Sunday in the Little Rock edition and today (Monday, July 12) in the state edition. The stories are essentially the same, with some minor editing by the AP. The one thing they didn’t fix is the wrong date for the construction of Lakeport. It’s 1858/1859, people. That time frame is based on historical documents and dendrochronology of the large beams in the attic. I have not idea where they got the 1856 date.

Third, the Sunday Democrat-Gazette (paywall, but see link to text in the bibliography) published an interesting guest column titled “‘Historical truths’ not always based in fact” by Elliott West, a Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Arkansas. The column is a response to a July 6 column by Mike Masterson, opinion editor of the NW Arkansas edition, titled “Deconstructing history.” The issue on the table for Masterson is the historical relationship between African Americans and the Democratic Party. Masterson recites arguments based on “historical facts” he heard recited by a speaker at the Arkansas African American GOP Caucus. The issue for West is Masterson’s understanding of history and “facts” and not checking if they are true or not. West writes, “The majority of the ‘historical truths’ in Masterson’s column are, to borrow his own opening words about what he has been taught, ‘incomplete, inadequate and just plain wrong’.”

Masterson’s agenda is to paint Democrats consistently on the wrong side of slavery and African American Civil Rights throughout history. Oversimplified political rhetoric like that does not make for good history. West, a world-class historian, catalogs Materson’s errors, half-truths and omissions. For instance, Masterson claims that the Missouri Compromise “reversed earlier abolition and allowed slavery in much of the federal territory.” West points out there was no government effort to end slavery, but the Compromise did forbid slavery in western federal territories north of Arkansas. Masterson’s errors of omission are just a egregious; while he notes the first African Americans elected to Congress were Republicans, he fails to mention “that Republicans almost wholly abandoned the interests of former slaves, and in the 1930s…the Democrats found it useful…to step up on their behalf…and most African Americas switched parties.”

The historical complexity of politics and racial allegiance applies to Arkansas as well. Of the 85 African Americans elected to Arkansas General Assembly in the 19th Century, only a handful were not Republicans–two Democrats and at least four Greenbackers. In 1874, Democrats “Redeemed” state government and ended Reconstruction, but blacks were still in representative government until the passage of the Election Law of 1891. The bill, passed largely on party lines, helped suppress black Republican votes and rural third parties like the Agricultural Wheel. After 1893 there were no African Americans elected to the General Assembly until the 1970s, when they were elected as Democrats.

The shift to the Democratic party began in the late 1920s with the formation of the Arkansas Negro Democratic Association. In the early 1920s, the Republican Party’s Lily White movement (which also reared it head in the 1890s) tried to force out black Republicans like Scipio Jones from the Arkansas Republican Convention. The exclusion of black delegates in 1920 led black Republicans to nominated their own gubernatorial candidate, John H. Blount, a Forrest City educator and former slave.

The founder of the Arkansas Negro Democratic Association, Dr. John M. Robinson, acknowledged his own ties to the Republican Party—his grandfather was a Republican and Robinson voted Republican all his life; however, Robinson, according to an Arkansas Gazette account, “expressed the opinion that after 60 years of proof of gratitude for ‘emancipation,’ the negroes of Arkansas now should be free to express their admiration for [Arkansas’s Democratic] Senator Joe T. Robinson.” The Preamble to the October 1928 Constitution and By-Laws and Order of Incorporation of the Arkansas Negro Democratic Association of Arkansas stated:


Based upon conclusions established by years of experience, it is the common understanding of the American people that government functions can be best promoted and maintained by or through political parities with well defined ideologies, and feelings that we have proved our loyalty and expressed our gratitude to the Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln and that the day has arrived that the Negroes of this country must become more largely interested and integrated in all political faiths and creed, and feelings that those of who find ourselves in accord with political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson—the founder of the Democratic party—that shall take this method to declare our faith in and allegiance to the principle of the Democratic Party and in order to unite Negroes and promote continued service and activity, we have this day ordained and established this Constitution and By-Laws.


The ANDA’s 80 year old political rhetoric is a bit opaque, but it plays fewer games with facts and history than today’s rhetoric. Of course, the ANDA rhetoric was part of a larger political strategy to win back the right to vote and to do that within the only party that mattered in Post-Reconstruction Arkansas–the Democratic Party.

Parts of the history of the ANDA can be viewed at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center–a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage devoted to Arkansas African American History.

Bibliography

Dillard, Tom. “To the Back of the Elephant: Racial Conflict in the Republican Party,” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 33 (Spring 1974), 11-12


Pulaski County Democratic Committee Scrapbooks, Book 4 in Arkansas History Commission.


Wintory, Blake J. “African American Legislators in the Arkansas General Assembly, 1868-1893,”
Arkansas Historical Quarterly 65 (Winter 2004): 385-434.


Lakeport Explores the Delta: Hollywood Plantation, Benoit, MS


Last Tuesday my wife and I made a trip up to Benoit, Mississippi to see restoration work on Bolivar County’s last antebellum plantation home–The Hollywood Plantation (Burrus Home or “Baby Doll House”) .

Overseeing the restoration of the ca. 1858 home is Eustace Winn, a descendant of the original owner. Eustace has visited Lakeport on several occasions to check on our progress and compare notes.
John C. Burrus began construction on the Hollywood Plantation around 1858. According to the 1860 Census, nine Burrus family members lived in the house–the 45 year old J. C. Burrus, his 39 year old wife, Louisa, and seven younger Burruses ranging from 20 to 2. The two-story Greek Revival, was likely unfinished as the Civil War began in 1861. Most notably, the second story door lacks a balcony. This is a familiar theme for a home built so late in the antebellum period. We tell a similar story about Lakeport and how its interior was likely unfinished–unpainted, bare plaster walls, a missing medallion, and an unfinished ceiling medallion.
As far as I could tell in my limited search, there is not a lot of academic history written about the home or the Burrus family. James Cobb in The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity (1992) mentions John and Louisa three times, citing the John C. Burrus Papers at the Mississippi Department of Archives & History, as well as a family account of the Civil War published in the Journal of the Bolivar County History Society in 1978. Citations of the Burrus Papers also appear in Harold Woodman’s King Cotton & His Retainers: Financing & Marketing the Cotton Crops of the South, 1800-1925 (1968).
The Historic American Buildings Survey documented the home in 1936 as the “Burris House.” In 1936 the house was likely vacant, but, from exterior photos, in decent condition.
Hollywood is most famous as the setting of the 1956 film Baby Doll. However, by 1956, Richard Sylbert, set director for Baby Doll, described the house as “a dilapidated, ramshackle, and hollow wreck.” Four of the columns were laying on the ground and the building “listed to the left about five or six degrees.” The interior was worse: “the entire stair railing, balusters, and curved handrail were gone”; “parts of floors burned away”; and “the walls had huge areas where the plaster had come free of the lathe.” According to Sylbert, the house was straitened, walls and ceiling were repaired “to exactly the state the story required.” (That last phrase definitely sticks out to me.) The stairway was also reconstructed. Sylbert claims to have found an original spindle sticking out of the yard; it was used to reproduce all the spindles you see in the film.

Until just a few years ago, Hollywood was again a shell, as evidence from this 2005 photo in Flickr. Even the Corinthian columns added by the set designers were gone. (Correction– The Baby Doll movie seems to show original columns, so Corinthian columns were likely added later by the Bolivar Historical Society by whom, then? .)

This image from the 1956 film Baby Doll seems to show the original Doric columns. It is not clear when the Corinthian order columns were added.

This image from the 1956 film Baby Doll seems to show the original Doric columns. It is not clear when the Corinthian order columns were added.

 

Eustace is making great progress since he began working on the family project three years ago. The new front columns, made of solid redwood from Washington state, replicate the originals and the interior is coming back to life again with new plaster, new woodwork that compliments what was left of the original, and, most recently, new stairs. When the restoration is finished, Hollywood will be open for tours and available for events.

After our tour, we headed up the road to Rosedale for some great food at the Blue Levee.

If the history and restoration of the Burrus House interests you, then you should visit the Lakeport Plantation across the river in Chicot County, Arkansas.  Lakeport is the last antebellum home in Arkansas along the Mississippi River.  Click here to learn about visiting Lakeport. 

Update (12/17/2012):  The Hollywood Plantation opened to the public in June 2012.  It is available for rentals and tours by appointment. We’ve had several groups schedule tours at Hollywood & Lakeport the same day. Visit their website — http://www.hollywoodplantation.com

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Bibliography
Cobb, James C. The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity. New York: Oxford University Press.
Sylbert, Richard and Sylivia Townsend, Designing Movies: Portrait of a Hollywood Artist. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2006.
 
United State Census, Manuscript Returns, Schedule of Population, 1860.
Woodman, Harold D. King Cotton & His Retainers: Financing & marketing the Cotton Crop of the South, 1800-1925. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press.


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