aka: Arkansas Arts Center Terry House Community Gallery
The Pike-Fletcher-Terry House, located at 411 East 7th Street in the MacArthur Park Historic District of Little Rock (Pulaski County), has been widely recognized as an architectural landmark since its construction in 1840. It has housed several prominent Arkansas families and served as a school and museum. It also was the meeting place for the Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC) during the aftermath of the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Although the house was remodeled several times, it retains much of its original Greek Revival character. The Pike-Fletcher-Terry house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 21, 1972.
The builder of the house, Albert Pike, came to Arkansas from New England in 1832 and had a varied career that included being a teacher, poet, lawyer, newspaper owner and editor, and Civil War general. In 1839, he purchased the twelve lots of block 61 from Chester Ashley, a prominent lawyer and land speculator who later became a U.S. senator. Pike purchased an additional lot across 8th Street to the south, where he constructed additional outbuildings. For both purchases, he used resources either from the estate of his wife’s father or from his new career in law. The house in its original configuration was two-story brick, with a central hallway on each floor, two large rooms on each side, and a low, sloping hipped roof used to collect and channel rainwater to one or more cisterns. He constructed a number of outbuildings—including a two-story detached kitchen, a stable, and a carriage house—on many of the thirteen lots. The initial configuration of the house had a small front porch of unknown design. Within the next few years, this porch was removed and replaced with a broad gallery with six monumental Ionic columns.
In August 1873, the board of directors of Arkansas Female College leased the house and grounds from Lillian Pike, Albert Pike’s daughter, to whom he deeded his interest in the property in 1871. The school opened its doors on October 1, 1874. When Pike’s wife, Mary Ann, died in 1876, his daughter became the sole owner of the house. The buildings were soon expanded, the new construction being described in the Second Annual Catalogue of the Arkansas Female College for the collegiate year ending on June 7, 1876, as a “two-story addition eighty feet long by thirty-five feet wide, containing a large study hall, recitation room, and dormitories.”
The school continued in operation on the property under the direction of a veteran teacher, Myra C. Warner, as principal. Lou Krause purchased the property in March 1886 and planned ambitious improvements for the school, but they were never made. In 1889, she transferred title of the property to her brother-in-law, John G. Fletcher, and moved the college to smaller quarters.
Fletcher and his wife, Adolphine Krause Fletcher, continued the high-profile occupancy of the house. He was a native Arkansan and Civil War veteran who, in the years following the war, became a prominent banker and one of the South’s leading cotton brokers, in partnership with Austrian-born merchant and broker Peter Hotze. The partnership lasted until their retirement in 1900. Fletcher was president of the German National Bank and a civic leader of his day. He was also Little Rock’s mayor from 1875 to 1881 and an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor in 1884 and 1888.
During the Fletcher occupancy of the house, the classroom building was removed, as was the original two-story kitchen building, which was replaced with an indoor kitchen. A conservatory was added on the east side and a porch on the west side, and the low roof was replaced with a much steeper one.
Following Adolphine Krause Fletcher’s death in 1910, her estate was shared by the three Fletcher children: Adolphine, John Gould, and Mary. John Gould Fletcher went on to achieve distinction as a poet, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1939, but lived much of his life abroad. Mary married career soldier Leonard Drennan and never moved back to Arkansas. Adolphine married David Dickson Terry, who distinguished himself as a lawyer, civic leader, and U.S. congressman (1933–1942). They were married in the front parlor of the house in 1910, and they lived in the house for most of the rest of their lives, except for parts of the years 1933 to 1942, which they spent in Washington DC while David Terry served in Congress. Even then, Adolphine Terry was in Little Rock most of the time with their five children.
In 1916, the old stables and servants quarters were removed, a brick garage was built, a sleeping porch was added over the west porch, and a screened porch was constructed to the rear. The main staircase was replaced by the present in the Colonial Revival style.
Adolphine Terry was a graduate of Vassar College and spent much of her life working for the causes of educational improvement, public libraries, and racial harmony. She was well known as the leader of the WEC, and many of the meetings were held in her house, a fact that is commemorated by the etched names of the committee members in the glass panels of the conservatory.
In 1964, Adolphine Terry and Mary Drennan deeded the property to the City of Little Rock, specifying that the house be used for the Arkansas Arts Center (AAC)—renamed the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in 2021. In 1977, after Terry died, Drennan voluntarily surrendered her life estate. The AAC then rehabilitated the house as gallery and support space. Rehabilitation construction was done in two phases, generally, from the architect’s inspection in 1978 to the one-year warranty inspection in 1985. The museum opened as the AAC Decorative Arts Museum in March 1985. In 2004, it became the Arkansas Arts Center Terry House Community Gallery, a multi-purpose gallery in which local and regional art was shown.
However, it was later closed and now sits empty and unused. Preserve Arkansas, on May 5, 2021, listed the home as one of the most endangered properties in the state due to the ongoing problems of deferred maintenance.
For additional information:
Bowden, Bill. “1840 Terry House in LR Showing Its Age.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, May 6, 2021, pp. 1B, 2B. Online at https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/may/06/1840-terry-house-in-lr-showing-its-age/?news-arkansas (accessed May 6, 2021).
Brown, Walter Lee. A Life of Albert Pike. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1997.
“Pike-Fletcher-Terry House.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/PU2829.nr.pdf (accessed February 1, 2021).
Terry, Adolphine Fletcher. “Life is My Song, Also.” Unpublished manuscript. Quapaw Quarter Association Collection. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. Central Arkansas Library System, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Charles Witsell Jr.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Last Updated: 05/06/2021