Hope Girl Scout Little House
The Hope Girl Scout Little House, located near Jones Street in Fair Park in Hope (Hempstead County), is a one-and-a-half-story Rustic-style log building constructed between 1938 and 1939 with assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 27, 2015.
The Girl Scout Little House movement had its origins in the 1923 Better Homes Demonstration Week when architect Donn Barber designed a house “for the American family of average size and moderate income” behind the White House in Washington DC for the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Better Homes of America organization. After the June 1923 celebration, Lou Henry Hoover, wife of future president Herbert Hoover and national president of the Girl Scouts, paid to have the structure moved to another location on New York Avenue in the nation’s capital for use as a Girl Scout training center. Other Girl Scout Little Houses of various sizes and designs would be built across the United States over the years as “a separate building, accessible and available to all Girl Scouts in a community and used by the girls for general program activities and as a meeting center.”
Hope had four Girl Scout troops in the late 1930s, but they had no set location for their gatherings. After the local Boy Scout troops used funding from one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal agencies, the National Youth Administration, to construct a cabin for their use in the city’s Fair Park, the Girl Scouts decided to follow suit, turning instead to another agency, the WPA, to help build a “Little House.”
Construction on the Hope Girl Scout Little House began on March 18, 1938, and the local scouts conducted fundraising cookie sales to raise matching funds throughout the project. The house was completed by April 2, 1939, and was dedicated that afternoon with Mayor Albert Graves presenting a key to the house to the scouts, after which Little Rock Girl Scout Council Director Alyse Nelson made a dedication speech and the assembled scouts sang the Friendship Song.
The Girl Scouts used the Little House until around 2010, when they could no longer maintain it, and ownership reverted to the city of Hope. Though the building showed the signs of decades of neglect, the city decided to rehabilitate it, and after supporting its listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015, the city received restoration grants totaling $106,667 from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program between 2016 and 2018. The city parks department began renting out the Hope Girl Scout Little House for use by both Girl and Boy Scouts and to the public at large.
For additional information:
Hope, Holly. An Ambition to be Preferred: New Deal Recovery Efforts and Architecture in Arkansas, 1933–1943. Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 2006. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed December 11, 2020).
“Little House in the Nation’s Capital.” Girl Scout History. https://gshistory.com/category/little-house/ (accessed December 11, 2020).
Ratermann, Travis. “Hope Girl Scout Little House.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/HE0966_nr.pdf (accessed December 11, 2020).
Schnedler, Jack. “Arkansas Travel: Hope’s Girl Scout Little House Under Restoration.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, March 13, 2018. Online at https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2018/mar/13/hope-s-girl-scout-little-house-under-re/ (accessed December 11, 2020).
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
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