The White-Baucum House at 201 South Izard Street in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a two-story, wood-frame structure that is one of the oldest examples of Italianate architecture in Arkansas (the house also has characteristics of Steamboat Gothic). The building’s distinctive features include balustraded balconies; a low pyramidal roof; paneled, square columns; side porches; and a half-hexagon front bay. For most of its history, the house was owned by individuals and families, but the building has housed various businesses since the 1960s.
The original house was completed around 1871 by Robert J. T. White, Arkansas’s secretary of state. In 1876, Colonel George F. Baucum (pronounced “Bockum”), a Confederate veteran of the Civil War, bought the house for $5,000. Baucum lived in the house until his death. His wife, Rebecca Baucum, remained in the house until she died in 1922. From 1935 to 1957, the house was owned by Cora Bell Busick (1887–1976), a widower and native of Missouri, who apparently ran a boarding house on the site before moving. In 1954, the area in which the house stood was rezoned for commercial use. As a result, in the late 1960s, the building went through various incarnations, including a restaurant, interior design studio, and private club.
In 1973, Bill Holland, an advertising executive and native of Damascus (Van Buren and Faulkner counties), bought the home, which was then unoccupied and in need of serious repair. Holland renovated the building, putting an addition on its eastern side and making a connecting walkway between the old and new structures. Holland restored the interior and exterior of the building, which included maintaining the original roof, stairwell, and six fireplaces. By the time the restoration was complete in 1975, the building had a central air conditioning and heating system and sprinklers. In December of that year, Frances Ross, president of the Quapaw Quarter Association, presented the ad firm of Holland, Leavitt and Associates—which was using the house for its offices—with a historic-structure plaque, only the twenty-third issued up to that time. By December 1976, however, the house was on the market following Holland’s move to offices on Capitol Avenue.
In 1977, Little Rock mayor Donald L. Mehlburger bought the former Baucum home, noting, “It’s not a bad idea for the mayor to have his office right downtown in a day and age when we’re promoting downtown.” The mayor paid $320,000 for the 9,100-square-foot building, located three blocks from city hall, and he used it for offices for his engineering firm. In 1980, Mehlburger made further improvements to the home, including the installation of an elevator lift for disabled persons. He also made the banister more like the original with shapes of hearts, teardrops, and tulips in the panels. That year, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Despite being on the National Register, the White-Baucum House fell into disrepair yet again. The Mehlburger firm owned the property until 2007, when it was sold to Harrison Development, LLC, which then sold the property to a Russellville (Pope County) bank in 2010. In July 2010, the Arkansas Times blog reported the eviction of squatters from the building, which was littered with trash and drug paraphernalia. The next year, the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas placed the house on its list of endangered properties.
Since then, the White-Baucum House has been revived once again as Little Rock has worked to revitalize its downtown and historic neighborhoods. In October 2012, Greg Hatcher of the Hatcher Agency purchased the house, though he sold the building in September 2013. In 2014, the Quapaw Quarter Association gave an award of merit to J. Chandler and Company, a clothing manufacturer, which had purchased the house from Hatcher and rehabilitated it. The White-Baucum House contains space for Chandler’s clothing operations as well as first-floor law offices.
For additional information:
“George Franklin Baucum.” United Daughters of the Confederacy Patriot Ancestor Album. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company, 1999.
Quapaw Quarter Association Records. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. Central Arkansas Library System, Little Rock, Arkansas.
“Remodeling of Baucum House is Completed.” Quapaw Quarter Chronicle (January–February 1975): 10.
“White-Baucum 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/PU3254.nr.pdf (accessed November 30, 2020).
Woodruff, Dianne. “The House Column.” Quapaw Quarter Chronicle (August–September 1980): 3
Colin Edward Woodward
UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture
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