This is an image of 101 Spring Street prior to the construction of the Cromwell building in 1975. The building was dedicated to Mr. Cromwell in 1992 to honor his legacy. Mr. Cromwell didn’t just design buildings; he connected communities and people together.
This is a drawing of the Capital Hotel from 1877. Forty years ago, when Cromwell built their building at Markham and Spring Streets, the area was in need of a major redevelopment effort. Mr. Cromwell was committed to renovating the hotel which in turn spurred the redevelopment of the Convention District and changed the face of downtown Little Rock.
Cromwell was honored to accept our 2017 Preserve Arkansas Award for Excellence in Preservation through Rehabilitation for 615 Main. It is so inspiring to spend an evening with people dedicated to preserving the heritage of our state.
12 Star Flats, a mix of studio and two bedroom apartments located on the second floor of the Paint Factory, will be ready for tenants in just a few short weeks. The Paint Factory is a mixed use building in Little Rock’s East Village that includes almost 30,000 sf of office space for 130 Cromwell employees, 16 loft apartments, and Chef Donnie Ferneau’s newest restaurant "Cathead’s", open for breakfast, lunch & dinner.
Named after Sterling Paint’s famous 12 Star brand, the flats offer rare industrial style living that retains the character and history of a great Arkansas success story.The apartments feature an onsite Fitness Center, a Community room, an outdoor patio, and convenient parking.
East Village is the 6th & newest Downtown Neighborhood along with the Financial Quarter, MacArthur Park, SOMA, River Market & Argenta neighborhoods. It is similar in some ways to the other 5 but has a more industrial flavor architecturally due to its unique history.
Other major anchors include the Clinton Center, Heifer International HQ, & eStem Middle School now under construction.
Food and beverage establishments already in the area include Rebel Kettle & Lost 40 craft breweries, Heifer Cafe and "42", an upscale restaurant in the Clinton Center. There are several other exciting projects in the East Village underway or planned including the new Rock City marina, "The Bike Shop" at 1212 East 6th and the redevelopment of both the Ace Glass & Rock Town Distillery buildings. For leasing information, please contact Rachel Scott at Moses Tucker Partners, 501-376-6555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit their website at https://www.12starflats.com/.
Earlier this month we donated a hundreds of documents and photos to the Arkansas Studies Institute. The documents date generally from the 1940s to the 1980s and will be available to the community for their use. Many of them represent buildings and places that no longer exist today. We are happy to be a part of preserving Arkansas' heritage.
Photo Courtesy of Polk Stanley Wilcox
Here is a really great article about our friends at Abandoned Arkansas. Their mission is to preserve the story of Arkansas' neglected and abadoned buildings through photography.
Preserving and telling the story of the Paint Factory is as equally important to Cromwell and our partners as the renovation of the building itself. Over the last two years, we have collected a number of historical items from various stages in the Paint Factory’s history. These items will be assembled into a rotating exhibit in Cromwell’s new Headquarters.
When the Paint Factory was first purchased, we were excited about opening the building’s vault. Original to the building, this vault contained an old safe, paint cans, records for the paint company, and drawings from the construction of the original building in 1947 as well as the addition that was designed in 1971.
The family of Stebbins and Roberts’ founder, Albert Howard Stebbins, has also generously donated a number of items that will be housed in the exhibit. These items include a colorful portrait of Mr. Stebbins with East Little Rock in the background as well as a paint deck from the Stebbins and Goldsmith era from 1914-1916. Former alumni of the company have also provided us with many items from the company’s past.
With the help of extensive online searches and the keen eyes of our employees, we have acquired several items for our collection, such as a Sterling Paint Sign that hung in the Cabot Lumber Yard, and a Sterling Paint clock. We have also collected several items that were found on the site during the renovation, including several pieces of terracotta that might have belonged to the foundation of the Little Rock Box Company.
The story of one of Little Rock’s most successful businesses is one that we are honored to tell. The vault, along with the building itself, will serve as a living monument to an important part of our city’s past, present, and future.
The Paint Factory, which was once home to the Stebbins and Roberts Paint Company, and later Sterling Paint, remains as one of the best examples of post-war industrial architecture left in the city. Throughout every stage of the renovation, Cromwell and its partners have been respectful of the existing identity of east Little Rock, its working class roots, and the residents and businesses that already call this area home. The community and existing businesses have been actively involved and engaged with the project and our vision for the neighborhood. It is our hope that this project will reconnect the East Village with the rest of downtown and ignite growth in an area of our city that has been neglected for too long. The rich history of the surrounding area and its industrial roots are what attracted us to the area in the first place. Inspiring change and fostering our city’s growth on all levels is in Cromwell's DNA as a company. It is the driving force behind everything we do.
East Little Rock, now known as Little Rock’s East Village, has always been an important part of the city but several factors caused an unintended decline for this area of town. Following the industrial resurgence after WWII, industrial companies moved south toward the Arkansas River Port in favor of larger properties and Little Rock’s growth was focused primarily towards the western part of the city. Later, the construction of Interstate 30 and I-630 effectively cut the area off from rest of downtown which resulted in further neglect. The expansion and renovation of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport also contributed to a decrease in the population of the surrounding neighborhoods.
These neighborhoods grew primarily out of the industrial job opportunities that were available in east Little Rock in the early 1900’s. During this time there were an increasing number of heavy industrial developments such as foundries, cotton mills, freight yards, lumber yards, brick yards, and furniture factories. The small worker housing developments replaced the farms and homesteads that were the first structures in the area. Most were concrete block homes that were a new approach to homebuilding during this era.
Despite the stagnation of growth over the past 70 years, several thriving businesses such as Darragh and AFCO Steel have called the East Village home for many years. In the early 2000’s, developments such as the Clinton Presidential Library and Heifer International paved the way to the early stages of renewed visibility to the area. In 2007, 10 homes built between 1906 and 1912 in Hangar Hill were listed on the National Register for Historic Places. Several local businesses such as Rock Town Distillery, Rebel Kettle Brewing, and Lost Forty spurred new growth in the past 5 years. Carver Magnet School, which was originally slated to close, announced in the spring of 2017 that it will remain open and a new charter school for k-8 for 1200 students is being built on Shall Street.
Cromwell Architects Engineers purchased the Sterling Paint warehouse building in the fall of 2015 and is working with developer Moses Tucker to turn the 50,000 SF former factory and office space into a mixed use development while retaining the historic elements of the building. The building listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it will remain on the register after the completion of the renovation. It will be the new home to Cromwell's headquarters as well as retail space, loft apartments, and a restaurant. The Paint Factory renovation is the flagship project of a large revitalization of East Village, downtown Little Rock neighborhood that has been long neglected. Cromwell will honor the history of this great Arkansas success story through a museum located in the vault of the lobby of the offices and through a series of educational plaques placed around the outside of the building. Built in 1947, the building is an intact example of a post-war commercial and industrial building and is the only industrial building designed by Burks and Anderson, prominent Arkansas architects.
HISTORY: In 1914, A.H. Stebbins and Gardener Goldsmith started a modest sign painting business in the basement of a small commercial building on West 6th Street in downtown Little Rock. In 1916 they expanded to manufacturing a small line of paints, operating as Stebbins & Goldsmith, renting the retail space above the basement workshop. In 1919, Lindsey Roberts, the son of a well-known Pulaski County plantation owner, bought Goldsmith's interests, changing the name of the company to Stebbins & Roberts. The company expanded their retail operation and began producing a larger line of paints, "S&G Brand", which was quickly acquired by the Benjamin Moore Company. After a successful sales profile with the new line of paints, they placed sales agents in many towns around Arkansas selling Benjamin Moore paints, linseed oil, and wallpapers.
After World War II, Stebbins & Roberts experienced massive growth, with 1946 being the most lucrative year in the company's history. To accommodate this growth, Stebbins & Roberts built a new office and factory building in the East End. The company continued to expand in the early 1950s and 1960’s and received several high-profile supply contracts, such as the formulation of a clear varnish that was applied to the gold leaf dome of the Arkansas State Capitol. The warehouse became overcrowded in the late 1960s, resulting in the decision to expand the original building, adding on a large wing to the east. The addition was completed in 1971. The company name changed to Sterling Paint in 1995, when Jim Adamson, son of longtime employee and former president Sterling Adamson, took over as president. The company was acquired in 2003 by Iowa Paint.
Local artist Jose Hernandez has been commissioned to paint an original mural in the East Village on the east wall of the former Carriage House building on 6th Street. Chief Operating Officer of Cromwell Architects, Engineers, Inc., Dan Fowler came across some of Hernandez’s work and thought that the artist’s style embodied the grit and spirit of the neighborhood.
Hernandez has been making art as long as he can remember. He started doing murals after moving to Savannah, GA, where he formed an art collective with some other local artists. They held pop-up art events in many cities all over the US and Mexico. The gatherings featured live music, dancing, the work of local artists, and live painting demonstrations. These events provided an opportunity for a diverse group of artists to network and collaborate with each other across borders.
Hernandez’s local projects include work for the Arkansas Times, the Argenta District, Dunbar Gardens, the North Little Rock Boys and Girls Club, Stephens Elementary School, 7th Street, and Sushi Café to name a few. His work has also been featured at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies and Gallery 360. He also custom paints skateboards, hats, and clothing. He spends his free time conducting workshops and mentoring young, aspiring artists.
As a muralist, Hernandez’s favored tool is spraypaint because he is able to cover a larger space in a shorter amount of time. Speed is not the only challenge that a muralist faces. Painting on canvas usually takes place in a controlled environment, whereas a mural is in the open and exposed to the elements like wind and rain, foot traffic and many other factors that can be out of the artist’s control. Painting a mural is also a very physically demanding task that requires using the entire body. Hernandez often paints in 10-12 hour sessions throughout the night to finish a piece.
Hernandez does not make art just for the sake of art. His pieces are driven by social commentary and messages that he would like to convey to the community. The concept behind the piece in the East Village is meant to pay homage to the local industry that the neighborhood was founded on as well as the people behind it. Once Hernandez completes a piece, he no longer retains ownership of it; the piece is for the community to share.
Whether observers love or hate the finished piece is irrelevant to Hernandez. No matter what the reaction is, murals are meant to foster ongoing communication and engagement to the very diverse group of people who experience it. Murals also serve as a way of claiming a unique space in this world. We are constantly bombarded with images of every form that are pasted on every clean surface possible. Why not fill some of those spaces with beautiful and creative images that will spark conversations, create social awareness, and even inspire positive progress? These ideals are what the essence of the East Village is all about.