Little Rock Arsenal

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The MacArthur Museum in Little Rock. Photo by Phil Frana.
Little Rock Arsenal Building.
Arsenal grounds in 1888.

Little Rock Arsenal is all that remains of a thirty building military complex in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Arsenal is open to the public in MacArthur Park just south of downtown Little Rock, and operates under the jurisdiction of the Little Rock Department of Parks and Recreation. Since 2001 it has been the home of the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. The Arsenal building is also the location of Little Rock Aesthetic Club meetings.

History of the Arsenal

Planning for the Little Rock Arsenal began in 1836 with the purchase of thirty-six acres of land just south of the burgeoning business district and new state capitol. The red brick Federal-style Arsenal building was completed in 1840, and was used as an munitions store. By the time of the Civil War the arsenal complex included a Workshop, Magazine, Commandant's House, and Bragg's Battery.

On February 8, 1861, the Arsenal was attacked by Confederate forces and its store of ammunition, cannon, and other weapons captured.

Arkansas Museum of Natural History and Antiquities

Between 1942 and 1997 the Arsenal housed the Arkansas Museum of Natural History and Antiquities. The museum was founded on Main Street in 1927 by Julia Burnell (Bernie) Smade Babcock. The original artifacts were donated by missionaries. One of the most popular artifacts on display was the so-called "Head of a Chicago Criminal."

The City of Little Rock acquired the natural history museum at Christmastime in 1929. The City moved the museum to the Tower Building of the Little Rock Arsenal in 1942. In 1964 the museum became the Museum of Science and Natural History. The name changed again in 1983 to the Arkansas Museum of Science and History.


  • "Important from Arkansas; Seizure of the Little Rock Arsenal," New York Times, February 11, 1861.
  • Paulette Walker and Alan Paulson, Historic Pulaski County: Arkansas (Arcadia Publishing, 1999), 19.

External links