Time Period: World War II through the Faubus Era (1941 - 1967) - Starting with O

Oak Forest United Methodist Church

Oak Forest United Methodist Church at 2415 Fair Park Boulevard in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a fieldstone-clad, Gothic Revival–style building designed by architect John Parks Almand and completed in 1951. The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 12, 2021. The congregation of Oak Forest Methodist Church was organized on August 29, 1943, following a fifteen-day open-air revival led by the Reverend John McCormack, pastor of Scott Street Methodist Church, who was a frequent visitor to the newly developed Oak Forest neighborhood. Regular outdoor services continued until September 30, 1943, when Sam and Mary Ballou offered a room in their house at 2222 South Tyler Street to the congregation. Services were held there until …

Oates, Will Etta Long (Willie)

Willie Oates was a renowned civic activist in Arkansas throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Whether through her fundraising efforts for charities and nonprofit organizations or her service in the Arkansas General Assembly, she had a substantive impact on her state and its citizens—and it was all achieved in a colorful style that was characterized by the flamboyant hats that became her trademark. Will Etta (Willie) Long was born on January 14, 1918, in Arkansas City, Kansas, to Harry L. Long and Roberta Fern Jordan Long. Harry Long, a pharmacist, was mayor of Arkansas City for several years. Willie Long arrived at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1938, earning her bachelor’s degree in …

Ogden, Dunbar H., Jr.

Dunbar Hunt Ogden Jr. was a Presbyterian minister who played an important role in the effort to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the mid-twentieth century. His support for the Little Rock Nine was controversial, and his efforts split his congregation. Ultimately, faced with diminishing support, Ogden resigned his pastorate and left Arkansas, taking over a church in West Virginia and eventually retiring in California. Dunbar Ogden Jr. was born on August 15, 1902, in Columbus, Mississippi. One of seven children born to Dunbar H. Ogden, who was a minister, and Grace Augusta Cox Ogden, Ogden was brought up in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Boys High School in Atlanta before going to Davidson …

Okolona Colored High School Gymnasium

The Okolona Colored High School Gymnasium served the African-American community in western Clark County for almost two decades. The last remaining structure on the former Simmons High School campus, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 23, 2011. Okolona (Clark County) was first settled in the early nineteenth century. The town attracted residents as it grew into a regional agricultural and transportation hub. Education played an important role in the development of the town, with the first school opening in 1833, followed by a second in 1857. The Okolona Male and Female Institute opened in the town in 1871, and Okolona High School began operations in 1890. Schools for African Americans in the community …

Oliver, M. E.

aka: Marvin Elmer Oliver
Marvin Elmer Oliver was an artist, farmer, and civil service employee in the Arkansas Ozarks. In 1955, he produced a book, Strange Scenes in the Ozarks, which attracted notice because of its unique artistic qualities. Text and illustrations were printed using the silk-screen (or serigraph) process, assembled by hand, and enclosed in a handmade cover. Oliver published 400 copies. The text describes the backwoods life Oliver remembered, which was almost completely gone by the time he produced his book. His distinctive illustrations make Strange Scenes in the Ozarks an item of interest to collectors of Arkansiana and of regional art. Oliver later published Old Mills of the Ozarks (1969) with black-and-white sketches, descriptions, and locations of twenty water-powered mills. M. …

Opal’s Steak House

Opal’s Steak House is a single-story building designed in the Art Moderne style. Constructed as a restaurant circa 1948 on Park Avenue in Hot Springs (Garland County), it has held various businesses over the decades. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 2004. The brick and stucco building faces Park Avenue to the south and is turned at an angle to the street. The building is fronted with a door to the left and a window that covers the center and right side of the front wall. Constructed from brick, the front of the building includes two projecting brick bands above the door and window. Both corners of the front façade are curved. Another …

Original Tuskegee Airmen

aka: Tuskegee Airmen, Original
Arkansas’s original Tuskegee Airmen were a part of a segregated group composed of African-American Army Air Corps cadets, personnel, and support staff known as the Tuskegee Airmen. There were twelve Arkansans documented who performed and maintained various roles at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Those roles included flight instructor, pilot, flight officer, engineer, bombardier, navigator, radio technician, air traffic controller, parachute rigger, weather observer, medical professional, and electronic communications specialist. Other support staff may have included Arkansans. The term “original” is applied to the individuals who received government and civilian instructional training while at Tuskegee between 1941 and 1946. Approximately 992 pilots were trained at Tuskegee, 450 of whom saw action overseas during the war; four of those were Arkansans. …

Our Lady of the Ozarks Shrine

Our Lady of the Ozarks is a shrine church located atop Mount Gaylor in Crawford County on Highway 71, just south of Winslow (Washington County) and the Crawford–Washington county line. It was organized due to the efforts of a group of women who desired to have a parish for families in the remote area. Established in 1942, it began serving as a chapel for Roman Catholics in the area as well as a popular retreat and annual pilgrimage location for all the state’s Catholics. The shrine was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 29, 2019. Before 1942, the towns in the Boston Mountains did not have a chapel where local Catholics could attend mass—the closest churches being …

Owens, Silas

Silas Owens Sr. was an African-American stonemason, carpenter, and farmer from Faulkner County. Owens was known in the central Arkansas area for his superior craftsmanship and a vernacular style of construction known by the twenty-first century as the Mixed Masonry. This style of architecture could be found throughout Arkansas, and there were many contemporary masons who utilized the technique; however, Owens’s work stood out. His artistic eye, exhaustive work ethic, and exacting coursing methods resulted in a deliberate pattern that became his trademark. Silas Owens Sr. was born on December 26, 1907, to Haywood and Matilda Owens in the Faulkner County community of Solomon Grove (which merged with Zion Grove to become Twin Groves in 1991). He and his five …

Ozark Golden Wedding Jubilee

The Ozark Golden Wedding Jubilee was a commemoration of couples who had been married fifty years, during which they reaffirmed their wedding vows. Taking place in 1949 and 1950 in Rogers (Benton County) and hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, the celebration was open to couples across the country and featured a recently married honor couple at both June events. The day of June 23, 1949, marked the first golden wedding event, at which seventy-eight couples celebrated their renewed vows. Married the preceding Wednesday during the Bride and Groom radio broadcast in Hollywood, California, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Tandy Gardner of Seattle, Washington, both pre-med students at the University of Washington, were the honor couple, awarded a week’s honeymoon in …

Ozark Heritage Arts Center and Museum

Housed in a historic Depression-era building constructed of native stone, the Ozark Heritage Arts Center and Museum in Leslie (Searcy County) collects and exhibits the rich musical, cultural, and historical heritage of the Ozark Mountain region. During the Depression, the citizens of Leslie approached the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to construct a gymnasium to complement the school built in 1910 during the city’s boom years. The native-stone building was completed and opened in 1938; it was used by the school system for the next forty-eight years, until 1986, when the system constructed new facilities nearby. School superintendent Ed Bradberry is generally given credit for the idea to convert the empty gymnasium into an arts center, and retired local merchants Rex …

Ozone School

The Ozone School was built by the Works Projects Administration (WPA) to serve part of rural Johnson County. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015. European settlement began in the area of Ozone (Johnson County) in the early 1800s, specifically with the arrival of Major M. Gillian and Kate Gillian (sometimes spelled Gillion) in 1840. A post office was established in Ozone in 1873. The earliest schools in Johnson County were called “pay schools.” Classes were often held in private homes, and the teachers were usually itinerants. In the first part of the twentieth century, school in the Ozone area was held in a small building that also served as the Methodist church. However, by …