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Entry Category: Businesses - Starting with M

M. M. Cohn

The M. M. Cohn Company was a regional department store chain based in Little Rock (Pulaski County) with stores in Arkansas and adjacent states. It was family owned and operated from its opening in 1874 until 1989, when the company was sold to a regional chain based in Texas. All M. M. Cohn stores closed in 2007, however, as a result of the liquidation of the new owner. The titular M. M. Cohn was originally named Kaminski or Kuhn and was born in Krakow, Poland, around 1845. He later changed his name to Mark Mathias Cohn. Cohn had lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, before moving to Arkansas and opening a store in 1874 in Arkadelphia (Clark County). He relocated to Little …

Majestic Hotel

The Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs (Garland County) was known as one of the most famous hotels in the South. For more than a century, the five-acre complex anchored the intersection of the main thoroughfares, Park and Central avenues, at the north end of Bathhouse Row in historic downtown Hot Springs. After numerous sales and a disastrous fire in February 2014, the fate of the Majestic property was uncertain. In 2016, it was decided that it would be demolished. Originally named the Avenue Hotel, the Majestic was built in 1882 on the site of the old Hiram Whittington House. The Avenue Hotel was notable for its amenities such as streetcar service to transport guests to and from the bath houses …

Marion Hotel

aka: Hotel Marion
The Marion Hotel (also known as the Hotel Marion) in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) was one of the most famous businesses in Arkansas for much of the twentieth century. Construction began on the hotel in 1905. The Marion was the tallest structure in the state from when it opened in 1907 until 1911. The hotel closed in early 1980 and was demolished to make way for the Excelsior Hotel (which later became the Peabody and then the Marriott) and the Statehouse Convention Center. The Marion Hotel was built by Herman Kahn, who moved to Little Rock from Frankfurt, Germany, in 1870. (Kahn’s great-grandson, Jimmy Moses, has been the driving force behind many of the developments in downtown Little Rock …

McClard’s Bar-B-Q

McClard’s Bar-B-Q is a restaurant located at 505 Albert Pike in Hot Springs (Garland County)which achieved national recognition not only for its food but also for the prominent political figures who visit the restaurant and extol its virtues, including former president Bill Clinton. Alex and Gladys McClard owned the Westside Tourist Court in Hot Springs in the 1920s, which was located west of the current restaurant’s location on Albert Pike. According to the official history of the restaurant, a destitute traveler could not pay the $10 he owed for his two-month stay at the tourist court. The traveler asked the McClards to accept a recipe for what he called “the world’s greatest bar-b-que sauce” in lieu of payment for the …

McDonald-Wait-Newton House

aka: Packet House
aka: 1836 Club
The McDonald-Wait-Newton House, also commonly referred to as the Packet House, is located in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The nineteenth-century house is a good example of the Second Empire architectural style and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places due primarily to its architectural significance. When the Packet House was constructed, its address was 1406 Lincoln Avenue; the road name was later changed to Cantrell. The people who built in the area had some association to the North; either they supported the North during the Civil War, or they moved south during Reconstruction, leading to the nickname of “Carpetbagger’s Row” for the homes along the road. According to the National Register of Historic Places nomination form, “The Packet …

Memphis and Little Rock Railroad (M&LR)

The Memphis and Little Rock Railroad (M&LR) was the first railroad to operate in the state of Arkansas. The M&LR was a 133-mile-long railroad line that ran from Hopefield (Crittenden County), just opposite Memphis, Tennessee, to Little Rock (Pulaski County). A five-and-one-half-foot-gauge railroad, it was constructed between 1854 and 1871. At the beginning of the Civil War, only the eastern portion of the railroad between Hopefield and Madison (St. Francis County) was in operation. Construction on the eastern and western thirds of the railroad was complete in 1862, but the Civil War interrupted construction of the middle division of the railroad. During this period, the M&LR played a vital role for both Confederate and Union forces and was under Union …

Minute Man

Minute Man of America was a pioneering fast-food chain founded by Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Wesley T. (Wes) Hall (1915–2002). At the height of its operation during the 1960s and 1970s, Minute Man had fifty-seven locations—some franchised, some company-owned—in Arkansas and seven surrounding states. By 2018, the only Minute Man location in operation was in El Dorado (Union County). A location in Jacksonville (Pulaski County) opened in 2020, and a food truck began operating in downtown Little Rock in 2021. The first Minute Man restaurant opened at 407 Broadway in Little Rock on May 26, 1948, as a coffee shop with twenty-four-hour service. Hall had three partners at the time: Oliver Harper, Walter Oathout, and Alton Barnett. In 1956, …

Mississippi, Ouachita and Red River Railroad

The Mississippi, Ouachita and Red River Railroad Company (MO&RR) was the first railroad to begin construction in Arkansas. Chartered in 1852 by John Dockery of Columbia County, the railroad began at Eunice (Chicot County), south of Arkansas City (Desha County), in 1854. At the onset of the Civil War, the railroad was incomplete, extending approximately seven miles south and west from the Mississippi River. Completion of construction and actual operation of the railroad did not occur until well after the Civil War. The road never made a profit and was merged with the Little Rock, Pine Bluff and New Orleans Railroad in 1873. The first articles of incorporation for the MO&RR were filed with the State of Arkansas by John …

Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad (M&NA)

The Missouri and North Arkansas Railroad (M&NA) was a regional carrier that, at its peak, stretched from Joplin, Missouri, to Helena (Phillips County). The railroad was plagued with weather-induced disasters, periods of labor unrest, questionable decisions by absentee managers and owners, unforgiving topography, economic conditions, fires, and bad luck. After the completion of the line, it existed for only four decades. The M&NA was the victim of a territory that could not produce sufficient revenue to support it. It had tough competition from the Missouri Pacific’s two routes through the region and their stronger traffic connections. The railroad was also constructed in a less-than-substantial fashion, which led to its many washouts, floods, and infrastructure failures. The railroad began as a …

Monte Ne Railway

  Monte Ne (Benton County) resort promoter William “Coin” Harvey built the five-mile standard gauge Monte Ne Railway to link the new resort to the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway (Frisco) main line at Lowell (Benton County). Frisco surveyors laid out the route, and Frisco workers assisted in track construction prior to the June 19, 1902, opening. (Harvey’s fellow “free silver” proponent William Jennings Bryan spoke at the grand opening, but the event was sparsely attended due to heavy rain and a charge to hear the speaker.) The Monte Ne Railway used poor quality fifty-six-pound rail purchased from the Frisco, which, like other big railroads, sold worn-out main line and side track to smaller companies. The Monte Ne Railway shared the depot at …

Mount Bethel Winery

Mount Bethel Winery in Altus (Franklin County) is the third oldest winery in the state and is a part of the tradition of Arkansas winemaking established by Swiss Catholic immigrants who settled in the western part of the state in the late eighteenth century. Like other wineries in Arkansas, it remains a family-owned and -operated enterprise and has won many awards for its product. Mount Bethel Winery, named after the old church and school district located there, was founded on August 8, 1956, by Eugene Post, who had earned a degree in chemistry from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and so entered the wine business with a good knowledge of fermentation and the aging of wine. Eugene …

Mountain Valley Spring Water

Mountain Valley Spring Water, a brand name for bottled spring water from Hot Springs (Garland County), originated in the 1870s and rose to nationwide prominence, as did the town of Hot Springs, due to a reputation for curative powers. The Mountain Valley Spring Company continues to promote the healthy mineral content of the spring water, enjoying $65 million in sales in 2004. In 1871, pharmacist Peter E. Greene and his brother, John Greene, originally from Arkadelphia (Clark County), were the first to sell Mountain Valley Spring Water, which was then known in the Hot Springs area as “Lockett’s Spring Water” because of its association with Benjamin Lockett and his son, Enoch. The Locketts owned the spring and were the first …

Mountainaire Hotel Historic District

The Mountainaire Hotel Historic District consists of two Art Moderne buildings constructed in 1947 as a hotel along Park Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County). The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004, but is abandoned and dilapidated. The thermal waters in Hot Springs attracted travelers to the city for decades before a quality road system was installed linking the area to other settlements. With the paving of what is now Arkansas Highway 5 between Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Hot Springs in 1925, tourists could more easily visit the springs to seek relief for medical problems. When the highway entered Hot Springs, it became Park Avenue, and a number of businesses catering …

Murphy Oil Corporation

Murphy Oil Corporation developed from family timberlands in southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana that were owned by Charles H. Murphy Sr. Officially formed in 1950 by the children of Murphy, the Murphy Oil Corporation now operates oil production facilities and processing plants across the world. The company was based in El Dorado (Union County) until 2020, when it was announced that Murphy Oil was consolidating its offices in Houston, Texas, following the collapse of oil prices that year. When oil was discovered in the Caddo Field north of Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1907, Charles Murphy Sr., the owner of timber and banking interests in Union County, decided that his timber company should purchase land on a scattered non-contiguous pattern to provide …