Tower Building (arsenal)

From FranaWiki
The MacArthur Museum in Little Rock. Photo by Phil Frana.
The Tower Building in 1934. Photo by Prather Reynolds of the Historic American Buildings Survey.
Architectural plan of Tower Building's first floor.

The Tower Building is one of the oldest edifices in central Arkansas, and is all that remains of the original Little Rock Arsenal. It now houses the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.

The Tower Building was started in 1837 and completed in 1840, only four years after Arkansas achieved statehood. The building stood over a munitions storage depot that included at least thirty other buildings. The Tower Building has walls over three feet thick, protection for the explosives stored inside. The building was the site of a dramatic confrontation in February 1861 between Union troops at the arsenal under the command of Captain James Totten and local residents sympathetic to the Confederate cause. During the Civil War the C.S.A. controlled the depot, until it was recaptured by Union forces under the leadership of General Frederick Steele.

General Douglas MacArthur was born to a military family at the Arsenal in January 1880. The barracks continued to be used on the site until 1890. In 1892 the U.S. government gave the property to the City of Little Rock, requiring that it be "forever exclusively devoted to the uses and purposes of a public park," in exchange for one thousand acres in North Little Rock, where they established Fort Roots.

The Tower Building remained in an abandoned state until 1942 when it reopened as the Arkansas Museum of Natural History and Antiquities. In 1997 this museum moved downtown (renamed the Arkansas Museum of Discovery). In May 2001 the building acquired a new tenant, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.


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