The Old State House Museum was built in 1836 and served as the state capitol until 1911. During its years, it has witnessed some of the state’s most important events.
This grand, old building hosted the admission of Arkansas into the Union. Ironically, it was also the site of the secession convention in 1861! The same building served as the seat of both the Confederate and Unionists governments during the Civil War.
Other notable events here include the 1837 Bowie knife attack on Representative Joseph J. Anthony by Speaker of the House John Wilson. Wilson stabbed Anthony in the heart after a perceived slight, killing him.
After the state government left in 1911, the building was occupied by the Arkansas School of Medical Sciences. During their stay here, the school achieved global recognition for its fight against two longtime, public health scourges: hookworm and malaria.
Before becoming a museum in 1947, the Old State House also served as the Arkansas War Memorial and was the first home of the Arkansas State Police, among other things.
In 1947, the Old State House was made a museum by acts of the Arkansas legislature, a status it has enjoyed ever since. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997.
The museum displays a wealth of both changing and permanent exhibits. The latter include First Ladies’ Gowns, African-American Quilts, Civil War Battle Flags, and Arkansas Art Pottery. Visitors can also see restored legislative chambers from the building’s time as a state capitol and a memorial to the Confederate spy David O. Dodd.
The Old State House Museum even hosted both of President Bill Clinton’s acceptance speeches, in 1992 and 1996, respectively. President Clinton has even said that the Old State House Museum is his favorite building in Arkansas!
Old State House Museum
300 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72201
Open 9am to 5pm, Mondays through Saturdays
1pm to 5pm Sundays, and 9am to 8pm the 2nd Friday of each month
The museums is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day
Old State House Museum Lodging
No matter where your Arkansas getaway takes you, be sure to help yourself to the best accommodations the state has to offer: Arkansas Bed & Breakfast Inns! Locally owned and operated with uncommonly comfortable amenities, full breakfasts, and an insider’s knowledge of what to see and do while you’re here. You’ll find true Southern hospitality at Arkansas Bed & Breakfast Inns!