Monthly archives: April, 2012

Balusters Return to Lakeport!

Earlier this week, I received a phone call from Realtor, Dottie Collins in Greenville, Mississippi.  “Blake,” she said, “your Lakeport balusters are ready to be picked up.”  She was referring to the 19 Lakeport balusters, which made up the front porch balustrade, that had been in a Greenville, Mississippi home since 1953. The house had just sold and the new owner was gutting the house. Dottie informed the new owner that the balusters had come from Lakeport and he saved them.  I called the new owner and rushed over to the house and found them waiting for me in a large garbage bag.

Original Lakeport balusters salvaged in 2012 from a home in Greenville, Mississippi

Here’s the back story:

May 26, 1953, The Delta Democrat Times

Back in 2008, while searching for information about Lakeport in Greenville’s The Delta Democrat Times, I came across an article from May 26,1953 about the new home of Mrs. Harold Kantor in the Wilzin Park neighborhood. The article recounts Mrs. Kantor’s collection of old Americana to decorate her “Early American-French provincial” home.  Mrs. Kantor’s collection included “the banister posts, which are from Mrs. Kantor’s fine old home on Lake Port Plantation in Arkansas.”  In two photos that accompany the article, you can clearly see the balusters referred to in the article.  From the photos, they looked a lot like Lakeport’s originals.

Close-up of balusters in Kantor home, 1953

It turns out that Mrs. Harold Kantor was Helen Epstein Kantor, one of Sam Epstein’s three daughters. Sam Epstein purchased Lakeport from the original Johnson family in 1927 and, it seems, Mrs. Kantor took a number of the balusters from Lakeport for her new home in 1953.

Inside the Kantor home, Wilzin Park, November 2008

After a little research, I figured out the address of the home and saw that it was for sale through Collins Real Estate. After learning the balusters were still in the house, I was able to meet with the owner and take several pictures documenting the 19 balusters.  

Original baluster found in Lakeport’s commissary

Before the restoration of Lakeport, it was thought that all the balusters were missing.  However, two turned up on a top shelf of the commissary.  These two were used to recreate the balustrade during restoration.  Now with the donation of the Kantor balusters, we now have almost 30% of the originals.  These won’t ever be put back on the house, but will be kept as artifacts for display and references in case we need to make any replacements.

2012 Teacher Workshop

The Arkansas Heritage Sites at Arkansas State University will host a free professional development workshop this summer at Lakeport Plantation. The restored Lakeport Plantation home, built ca. 1859, is the only remaining antebellum Arkansas plantation home along the Mississippi River.  The workshop will provide six hours of in-service credit. All workshop themes and activities fit into the Arkansas Social Studies Curriculum Frameworks. The workshop is designed to feature the multi-topic and interdisciplinary educational opportunities available through a great and unique Arkansas Delta site.  

June 13, 2012, 9-3 PM:  Lakeport Plantation, Lake Village.   Theme: “African Americans and the Civil War in Arkansas” 
This workshop will focus on the role of African Americans during the Civil War and Reconstruction in Arkansas.  Guest lectures will be as follows: 
  • Mark Christ, Community Outreach Director at the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and author of Civil War Arkansas, 1863: The Battle for a State, will discuss African American regiments in Arkansas during the Civil War.
  • Rhonda Stewart, Genealogy and Local History Specialist for the Central Arkansas Library System’s Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, will present “The Legacy of Richard Toombs, United States Colored Troops: From the Civil War to Central High to the White House.”
  • Blake Wintory, Ph.D., Assistant Director at the Lakeport Plantation, will discuss the history of Reconstruction and Redemption in Arkansas and Chicot County and the role African American legislators played during that tumultuous and interesting time. 

For a full agenda, click here.

For those who are interested in registering for the workshop, registration is available through the Arkansas Heritage Sites website on either the home page or the education page (the registration tool is located in the left hand side link menu):  OR interested individuals can register for the workshop by contacting Rachel