Businesses

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Bruno’s Little Italy

Bruno’s Little Italy in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is one of the most well-known restaurants in central Arkansas, serving authentic Neapolitan food since 1949 and introducing hand-tossed pizza to Arkansas. It was founded by Vincent “Jimmy” Bruno and continues in the twenty-first century with his sons and grandson, although it has operated in several locations with brief interruptions over the years. Known for its fine food and also for the many photos of celebrities on the walls, it has been recognized as having the best Italian food in the United States. Giovanni Bruno emigrated from Naples, Italy, in 1903 to join his brother in opening one of New York’s first pizzerias—actually a bakery from which they served pizzas. He was …

Butchie’s Drive-In

What was originally called Butchie’s Drive-In is a small restaurant located on Park Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County). Designed in Art Moderne style, the building was constructed in 1952 and added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004. Bailey’s Dairy Treat began operations in the building in 1995. An outstanding example of a tourist-focused business that existed in Hot Springs during the mid-twentieth century, it is the only remaining restaurant from the period on Park Avenue. A number of businesses catering to visitors to Hot Springs appeared along Park Avenue in the 1930s. The roadway led travelers from Little Rock (Pulaski County) into the city, and multiple tourist courts, motels, and restaurants were constructed along …

Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company

aka: Overland Mail Company
Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company carried the first successful overland transcontinental mail by stagecoach through Arkansas as it went from the Mississippi River to California. Though only running from 1858 through 1861, it was the longest stagecoach line in world history at approximately 2,812 miles and was a major factor in the settlement and development of Arkansas and the American West before the Civil War. Its two main routes ran through Arkansas, westward from Memphis and south from Missouri, connecting in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). Many sites in Arkansas, such as Butterfield Trails Village in Fayetteville (Washington County), still reflect the era of Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company. Before modern technology, the mail was America’s lifeblood. “Post roads” were created in the …

Caddo River Lumber Company

Caddo River Lumber Company was one of the largest lumber companies operating in the Ouachita Mountains during the first half of the twentieth century. During the Depression, it may have been the largest manufacturing employer in the state. However, like many other lumber companies of the era, it succumbed to a shortsighted policy of non-sustainable practices. The Caddo River Lumber Company was organized in 1906 by Thomas Whitaker Rosborough, M. R. Smith, W. E. Cooper, and Lee Wilson of Kansas City, Missouri, with Smith as president and Rosborough as vice president, though the latter managed the operations of the company. Rosborough had previously operated sawmills and a planing mill in Arkansas and Louisiana and had done some work for Ozan …

Cairo and Fulton Railroad

Today’s Union Pacific Railroad line from the Missouri state line through Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Texarkana (Miller County) was constructed by the Cairo and Fulton Railroad. Over a period of more than 100 years, the Cairo and Fulton merged first into the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern (StLIM&S), then into the Missouri Pacific, and finally into today’s Union Pacific. As the first railroad to connect Arkansas to Missouri and the eastern United States, the Cairo and Fulton opened up the state for development. The Cairo and Fulton Railroad was chartered by the State of Arkansas on February 9, 1853, to build a railroad line from the Arkansas-Missouri state line across Arkansas to Texas. The State of Missouri, on …

Camark Pottery

Founded in 1926, Camden Art Tile and Pottery Company was the third and last producer of Art Pottery in Arkansas. By the end of its first year, its name had changed to Camark to include both the city of Camden (Ouachita County) and the state of Arkansas. Camark Pottery eventually became one of Camden’s best-known industries and was known nationwide. Samuel Jacob “Jack” Carnes, a native of Zanesville, Ohio, and an engineer with knowledge of the pottery business, wished to access the regional pottery market, so he created the company with several Ohio associates, including businessmen and artists. They held a competition among twenty-five cities for its placement. Camden won the appointment in 1926. At this time, Camden was booming. …

Capital Hotel

The Capital Hotel in Little Rock (Pulaski County), situated near Arkansas’s first state capitol building (now known as the Old State House), has been part of the city’s history since 1872. Once the most luxurious hotel in the state, it often served as an unofficial political headquarters, where decisions, as well as political careers, were made. In 1974, the hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built near the river port, the Denckla Block, as it was first known, was built to house offices, shops, and gentlemen’s apartments for businessmen. In the second half of the nineteenth century, after the end of the Civil War, Little Rock was a growing river port and rail station. There was …

Carpenter’s Produce

Carpenter’s Produce is an agricultural enterprise based in Grady (Lincoln County) that supplies produce for both regional farmers’ markets and national grocery chains such as Walmart and Kroger. The Carpenter family has long been an important symbol of African-American success in the field of agriculture, especially in a time and place when many independent black farmers faced monumental difficulties in remaining solvent. Carpenter’s Produce was established by Abraham Carpenter Sr. and his wife, Katie. In 1969, Katie Carpenter planted a one-acre vegetable garden and began selling her produce locally. At the time, Abraham Carpenter, then almost forty years old, was working at Seagram’s Lumber Mill in nearby Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). Using some of his earnings, he purchased thirty additional …

Cavender’s All-Purpose Greek Seasoning

Lester “Spike” Cavender of Harrison (Boone County) created Cavender’s All-Purpose Greek Seasoning with his son Ronald Stephen Cavender in the late 1960s. It was adapted from a recipe by a Greek friend of Cavender’s who was a chef. For many years, the seasoning was shared only with their friends and family until they began selling it in 1969. Since 1978, Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning has been manufactured and sold by the S-C Seasoning Company, Inc. In May 1988, the company moved from its original location to a larger facility in Harrison. By 2015, a third generation of the Cavender family was producing and selling their world-famous Greek seasoning. Lester Robert “Spike” Cavender was born in Cooper, Delta County, Texas, …

Chateau Aux Arc Vineyards and Winery

One of several new vineyards in Arkansas, Chateau Aux Arc of Altus (Franklin County) promotes itself as the largest planter of Cynthiana grapes in the world as well as the largest planter of Chardonnay grapes in the United States outside of California. Chateau Aux Arc is named for the French term meaning “at the bend,” which is generally believed to be the origin of the name “Ozark.” The winery is owned and operated by Audrey House, who started it in 2001 at the age of twenty-five. House was born in Oklahoma in 1976 but lived in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1989 to 1994; she graduated from Pulaski Academy. She then studied psychology at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, …

Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway

The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (commonly called the Rock Island) was an Illinois railroad that gained access to Arkansas in 1902. Its purchase of the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad gave it the beginnings of a transcontinental route along the thirty-fifth parallel and the beginnings of a route to the Gulf of Mexico at New Orleans. Ultimately, the railroad would purchase more than thirty-two separate railroads to create a network in Arkansas that was more than 700 miles long, with railroad lines in the Mississippi River Delta and the Arkansas Grand Prairie representing the importance of agricultural products to its business. Oil from southern Arkansas, coal from western Arkansas, and lumber products from central and southern Arkansas were …

Clem Bottling Works

  Clem Bottling Works in Malvern (Hot Spring County) was a bottling company in operation from 1907 to 1972. It produced about a dozen original flavors of soft drinks. Clem Bottling Works was started in March 1907 by J. M. Clem and his son, Dock. The Clem family produced and bottled soft drinks in a small building behind their home. In May 1914, the Clem Family built a bottling plant and warehouse at 937 South Main Street in Malvern.  The first bottles the company used were embossed with “J. M. Clem Bottling Works” and were sealed with a wire and an inner seal. In the early 1920s, the company converted to bottles sealed with metal caps. The bottles at this …

Climber Motor Corporation

The automobile craze grew by leaps and bounds during the early twentieth century. A 1907 issue of Outing Magazine reported that “In 1906, the cost of the annual American output of automobiles was $65,000,000. There were 146 concerns in business, which represented a capitalization of probably $25,000,000 and were giving employment directly and indirectly to an army of men which reached well up into the hundreds of thousands.” Arkansas was in no way left behind by the explosive growth of the use of the automobile. By 1913, there were 3,596 registered passenger vehicles in Arkansas. Even though automobile production was growing year by year, the improvement of roads to accommodate the new vehicles was severely lagging behind across the nation, …

Coleman Dairy

Coleman Dairy in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is the oldest continuously operating dairy by the same family west of the Mississippi River and was listed in 2001 by Family Business Magazine as the seventy-fifth-oldest family business in the United States. Five generations of Colemans have operated the business since its beginning in the early 1860s. Coleman Dairy became a division of Hiland Dairy in 2007. Eleithet B. Coleman founded Coleman Dairy in 1862. Attempting to stay ahead of the Civil War, he brought his family to central Arkansas with a few dairy cows. At the time he started the business, dairymen hauled their raw milk in crocks and poured it into whatever containers were brought out to the delivery wagon …

Combs, Cass and Eastern Railroad

The Combs, Cass and Eastern Railroad Company (CC&E) has several distinctions. It was the last railroad built in northwestern Arkansas. It reached the highest elevation of the railroads operating in northwest Arkansas and was the sole standard gauge logging railroad there. Prominent Arkansan J. William Fulbright became president at the age of eighteen, thus becoming the youngest railroad president in the United States. Construction of the then-unnamed railroad began in 1913 at Combs (Madison County) on the St. Paul (Madison County) branch of the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway (Frisco). The line headed south along Mill Creek for nearly nine miles. Upon entering Franklin County, the railroad encountered difficult rock conditions as it climbed to Summit (Franklin County) at about 1,900 …

Command-Aire

In 1926, the Arkansas Aircraft Company was founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to build small personal airplanes. The company represented the first and one of the few aircraft companies that have existed in Arkansas. The Arkansas Aircraft Company, which later became known as Command-Aire, was nationally known for its aircraft, and it was one of the country’s leading airplane manufacturers in the late 1920s. Robert B. Snowden Jr. was the company’s president, and John Carroll Cone was in charge of sales. Albert Voellmecke—a graduate of the University of Braunschweigaud in Germany and an employee of the Heinkel firm, a noted German aircraft builder—was sent to America by the Heinkel firm in 1927 to advise the company. He later became …

Cottage Courts Historic District

Cottage Courts Historic District is a motel located at 603 Park Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County). Constructed in 1950, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004. Park Avenue was an important transportation route in the early twentieth century, as travelers from Little Rock (Pulaski County) and other cities to the north of Hot Springs used the road to reach the growing tourist town. Service stations, lodging, and other amenities were constructed along the road to serve these visitors. Cottage Courts (or Court) was constructed late in this period and was designed as a motel rather than a traditional tourist court as many others had been in Hot Springs. The units are joined …

Courier-Index (Marianna)

The Courier-Index, a newspaper based in Marianna (Lee County), is the oldest continuous business operation in Lee County. Its roots date back to about 1872 when L. M. Benham is believed to have founded the Marianna Index. J. M. Thomas was the first editor. The Lee County Courier, founded in 1890 by Colonel James Wood, gave the area two newspapers for more than twenty-five years. Herbert M. Jackson purchased the Index and the Courier in 1917 and merged them into the Courier-Index. Jackson published the newspaper until his death in 1934, when his wife, Cordie Jackson, became publisher. She continued to publish the paper until 1937, when she sold it to John B. Howse. Approximately two years later, she resumed …

Cove Tourist Court

The Cove Tourist Court is located on the corner of Park Avenue and Cove Street in Hot Springs (Garland County). Constructed in 1937, the court is designed in the International style with Craftsman-style details. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004. The thermal waters found in Hot Springs have made the area an attractive destination for visitors for centuries. The widespread adoption of automobiles in the early twentieth-century, coupled with the improvements made to highways in Arkansas, made it easier than ever for tourists to reach Hot Springs in the 1930s. In response to the growing demand for lodging in the area, numerous tourist courts and other amenities were built along Park Avenue. …

Cowie Wine Cellars

On August 17, 1967, Cowie Wine Cellars was established as a federal and state bonded winery in Paris (Logan County), fulfilling the lifelong passion of founder Robert Cowie, who had begun making wine as a hobby at age fifteen. Cowie Wine Cellars remains, by choice of its founder, the smallest winery in the state, though it has won a number of state and national awards, in particular for its Cynthiana and Robert’s Port. Robert Cowie built his winery, originally a small metal building, on the former property of St. Ann’s School, just west of Paris at Carbon City, in 1969. Three years later, his family was able to build a house on the property and move to the winery site, …

Cromwell Architects Engineers, Inc.

Cromwell Architects Engineers is one of the oldest architectural firms in the nation and is clearly the oldest in Arkansas. Begun in 1885 with one architect and his draftsman son, by the twenty-first century, the firm had more than 100 employees offering a variety of services and could show an enormous body of completed work around the world. Most notably, the firm employed Charles Louis Thompson (1868–1959) and his son-in-law, Edwin Boykin Cromwell (1909–2001), both of whom were well known in their profession. The firm’s history begins with the arrival in Little Rock (Pulaski County) of Benjamin J. Bartlett. It is likely that both he and his son came to the state because they had been selected in 1885 to …

Crossett Lumber Company

The Crossett Lumber Company (CLC) was Arkansas’s largest and most influential lumber company from its founding in 1899 until its merger with the Georgia-Pacific Company in 1962. It is notable for its growth alongside the company town of Crossett (Ashley County) and its early use of sustained-yield forestry in collaboration with Yale University’s School of Forestry. On May 16, 1899, Charles W. Gates, Edward Savage Crossett, and Dr. John W. Watzek—all from Davenport, Iowa—founded the Crossett Lumber Company in Ashley County in southeast Arkansas and Morehouse Parish in northern Louisiana. Stockholders named them president, vice president, and treasurer of the board of directors, respectively. Their first action was the purchase of 47,000 acres of land from the Michigan investment firm …

Crystal Bathhouse

The Crystal Bathhouse in Hot Springs (Garland County) was the first purpose-built bathhouse to exclusively serve the needs of African Americans in Arkansas. It opened in 1904 and became a destination for those who were attracted to the nationally known thermal waters of the Spa City during the era of the Jim Crow segregated South. The Crystal Bathhouse was located at 415 Malvern Avenue on Block 66 in the black business district of town. Two local contractors, Michael H. Jodd and Albert P. Aldrich, built the bathhouse. They chose architect John McCaslin to design a two-story brick building with parlors, dressing rooms, cooling rooms, tubs, vapor cabinets, restrooms, and eleven rooms for lodging accommodations. Externally, the building had double-hung sash …

Crystal River Tourist Camp Historic District

aka: Crystal River Tourist Court
aka: Crystal River Cave and Court
The Crystal River Tourist Camp Historic District is perhaps the most unusual tourist court in the state, and one of the most unusual in the country. The striking exteriors have remained largely unchanged since the structures were built by a local businessman and a stone mason in 1934. The court surrounds the entrance to the Crystal River Cave, a popular gathering place for which the town of Cave City (Sharp and Independence counties) was named. The Crystal River Cave and Courts, as it is now called, no longer functions as lodging, although the property’s owners offer tours of the cave by appointment. The Crystal River Tourist Camp Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June …

Daily Citizen (Searcy)

The Daily Citizen is a newspaper serving Searcy (White County) and the greater White County area. The paper traces its origins to 1854, when it was first printed as the Des Arc Citizen, and it claims to be the oldest county newspaper in Arkansas. John J. Morrill originally founded the paper, which began weekly publication on September 5, 1854, in Des Arc (Prairie County). Morrill’s Des Arc Citizen held fiercely Democratic leanings and gave a voice to the anti-abolitionist views held by most Prairie County Democrats just before the Civil War. Citizen opinions showed deep concern about potential Republican electoral success, warning that creeping Northern encroachment into the issue of slavery would only end in secession from the Union, if …

Daily Siftings Herald (Arkadelphia)

The Daily Siftings Herald was a newspaper based in Arkadelphia (Clark County) that served Clark County and nearby portions of Hot Spring County. The Daily Siftings Herald began operations in 1920 after two newspapers consolidated. The Arkadelphia Signal began publication in 1881 under the ownership of J. W. Miller, J. N. Miller, and Isom Langley. The name of the Signal changed to the Arkadelphia Clipper in 1882 and then to the Arkadelphia Herald in 1888. The Siftings began publication in 1891 under the ownership of brothers Edward and Claude McCorkle. Claude moved to Hope (Hempstead County), where he bought the Hope Star newspaper, while Edward remained in Arkadelphia to operate the Siftings. Edward died in 1918, and his son Philip …

Daisy Outdoor Products

Daisy Outdoor Products is the world’s oldest and largest marketer of airguns and airgun accessories. With the town’s name stamped on every Daisy airgun made since 1958, Rogers (Benton County) is well known as the home of Daisy Outdoor Products. However, the company was not always located in Rogers, nor was it always in the airgun business. Daisy traces its history to the founding of the Plymouth Iron Windmill Company in Plymouth, Michigan. Windmills in use throughout the country had traditionally been made of wood. The idea of a steel windmill was conceived by Clarence J. Hamilton, a watch repairman working in the front window of a drug and jewelry store in Plymouth. Hamilton secured a patent, and the Plymouth …

Dassault Falcon Jet

aka: Falcon Jet
The Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation is one of Arkansas’s largest private employers and is largely responsible for the state ranking eleventh in the nation in annual aviation exports. The company’s Little Rock (Pulaski County) site houses both completion and service centers for Dassault Aviation, Dassault Falcon Jet’s parent company based in Paris, France. Falcon jets are manufactured in France and then flown into the Little Rock site at Adams Field near the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport for painting of exteriors and installation of optional avionics and custom interiors. In 1971, FedEx founder Fred Smith purchased a company called Arkansas Aviation Sales that was located at the site of the current completion center. Smith acquired the company Little Rock …

De Queen Bee

The De Queen Bee was established by printer Walter A. Boyd and lawyer J. W. Bishop of Nashville (Howard County). The newspaper has been serving De Queen (Sevier County) and the surrounding areas since June 4, 1897. Some sources report that the partnership began when Boyd and Bishop were sitting on the courthouse steps in Nashville discussing the future of the developing railroad town of De Queen. Seeing the new town as an opportunity, they decided to start a newspaper, naming it the De Queen Bee. A subscription was one dollar a year, with the paper being published every Friday. The partnership lasted for only three issues before the paper was sold to E. C. Winford. Leadership of the paper …

Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company

Founded in 1871, the Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company, located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is a family-owned operation specializing in catalog and magazine printing. The company grew out of a newspaper department to its own industrial facility employing up to 200. The Arkansas Democrat established the Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company as part of the newspaper’s printing division in 1871. In 1906, Democrat Printing separated from the Arkansas Democrat when the newspaper divided its assets. For the next forty years, the company primarily offered printing services using a sheet-fed printer. By 1924, the company needed its own building for its growing business. Hiring the Sanders and Ginocchio architectural firm, the company built a three-story building, totaling 61,436 square feet, …

Diamond Bear Brewery

Diamond Bear Brewery in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) revived beer brewing in the state of Arkansas. Its name is derived from two previous monikers used by Arkansas: the “Diamond State” and the “Bear State.” Russ Melton, president and chief executive officer of Diamond Bear, served in the military in Germany for four years, where he acquired a taste for fine beers. He and his wife, Sue Melton, came up with the concept of a local brewery in 1999 and, along with seven other owners, started production in the fall of 2000 at a Little Rock (Pulaski County) facility. The mission statement of the company is: “To provide the people of Arkansas and the surrounding region with their own local brewery, which produces great …