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During the Jim Crow era, the community of Russellville attempts to restore the “loving house”



Russellville, Arkansas – In Russellville, Arkansas, locals are trying to restore a house that was listed in the Green Book during segregation.

The Green Book was released in the middle to late 1930s, claims the nonprofit Friends of the Latimore Tourist Home.

The Green Book assisted black travelers during the Jim Crow era in locating accommodations, restaurants, and petrol stations without encountering prejudice or violence.

“During the Jim Crow era between Little Rock and Fort Smith, this is the only house that a black person could stop, get rest, get water to ease their mind,” Randy Hendrix, president of (FOTLTH) said.

Hendrix said that Eugene and Corna Latimore, who lived in the home at 318 S. Houston Avenue in Russellville, AR, were his neighbors.

Hendrix claimed that he frequently observed gatherings of people at the house.

“As a kid I watched all this history happen, but now it’s come to pass that I know what was happening,” Hendrix said. “The Latimores were way ahead of their time, helping people [and] they probably saved thousands of lives.”

The organization’s ultimate objective, according to Hendrix, is to repurpose the house as a “beacon in [the] community” to assist children, the homeless, or anyone else in need.

“We want people to understand that this was a loving house,” Hendrix said. “This was something a lot of people couldn’t have done without during that time.”

The restoration effort got underway, according to Betsy McGuire, vice president of FOTLTH, because of the city’s former Mayor Richard Harris.

“Harris said, ‘I’d like to see something good happen with that house,” McGuire said. “Harris is actually the one that kicked off what we call, the last-ditch effort to see this house.”

The Latimore mansion, according to FOTLTH, was formerly owned by a nearby church before it transferred possession to Russellville in 2022.

This summer, the house was moved permanently to 505 Houston Avenue and is now facing James School Park after a brief transfer.

“We are at the forefront of phase 2,” McGuire said. “Phase 2 is getting the structure weather-tight, a new roof, and repairing the siding, windows, and doors.”

All of those upgrades, according to McGuire, cost more than $200,000, and to fund them, they rely on grants from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and contributions from the local community.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us but we are undaunted,” McGuire said. “We are all keepers of the home and seeing what option this can be in the future is just amazing.”

The project continues to have the full backing of the city, according to Russellville’s current mayor, Fred Teague.

“This house represents so much for so many generations of people,” Teague said. “The main thing is that we have to remember our history so that we don’t make those same mistakes again.”


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