Historic building burns 

Mosaic Templars in ruins

IN RUINS: Mosaic Templars building.
  • IN RUINS: Mosaic Templars building.
An early morning fire destroyed the historic Mosaic Templars building, under restoration as a museum, early Wednesday. State officials said they hoped to save a small portion of the ground-floor proceed and continue with plans for a cultural center on black people in Arkansas. The alarm came at 2 a.m., but the fire was too far advanced for firefighters to restrict the damage. The ruins were still smoldering during the morning rush hour. A fire official said it was too early to guess at a cause and the extent of the destruction may make pinpointing a cause difficult. The three-story building was in flames when the brick facade collapsed onto 9th Street. Firefighters had set up their positions far enough away that none was injured by falling debris. Demolition crews knocked down more of the facade because of the threat of collapse. The building, built in 1911 and dedicated in 1913 by Booker T. Washington, served a black fraternal society that sold insurance. Its third-floor ballroom hosted some of the most famous entertainers of the era during its heyday. Some $2.5 million was provided by the state to make the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center a state museum. Its opening was scheduled for 2006. In all, it is expected to be a $9 million project, with hoped-for private contributions. The future is now uncertain as to shape of the project, but state officials insist the project will move foward. Only a shattered hulk of the ground floor remains. State officials say the hope is to save from the pediment over the main door to the cornerstone of the building, at its northeast corner. A spokesman said that there was no archival material inside. Construction work was underway. “We are completely devastated by this,” Cathie Matthews, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, said in a news release. “The building was a great piece of Arkansas history. “Our intent is to rebuild and continue our plans to open the museum,” said Matthews. “The next few weeks will clarify for us what we need to do. We have such a compelling story to tell about the Mosaic Templars and what that association and its leaders achieved during very trying times. We will let their determination inspire us as we move ahead." Insurance? The state has a $1.1 million policy, there's a $2.9 million "builder's risk" policy and the contractor has a $2 million liability policy. How much of that will be paid is yet to be determined. KTHV has posted footage of the blaze.



Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Gunfire reported at downtown hotel

    Guests at the Marriott Hotel downtown reported hearing multiple gunshots about 9:30 p.m. Saturday night, but, at last report on KTHV, police had found no evidence that anyone was hurt.
    • Feb 19, 2017
  • Trump ventures into fake news as he decries it

    President Donald Trump continued his attack on the media at a rally in Florida Saturday, but his own reporting of facts continued to be fractured, with reference to a non-existent incident in Sweden.
    • Feb 19, 2017
  • More objections to the bathroom bill from Buffalo River businessman

    A tourism operator in the district of a senator who's sponsored a "bathroom bill" to discourage transgender use of public facilities has joined those objecting to the legislation as damaging to business.
    • Feb 19, 2017
  • More »

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Most Shared

  • "Nasty Woman" at HSU: 32 artists celebrate Women's History Month

    A photograph of a woman doing a headstand so you can see her red underpants. A sculpture by Robyn Horn titled "Approaching Collapse." Those and other works that assistant professor of photography Margo Duvall says "celebrates the female voice in art" for Women's History Month go on exhibit March 1 in the gallery in the Russell Fine Arts Building.
  • Home again

    The plan, formulated months ago, was this: Ellen and I were going to go to Washington for inauguration festivities, then fly out the morning after the balls for Panama City and a long planned cruise to begin with a Panama Canal passage.
  • Who needs courts?

    Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge?
  • Bungling

    If the late, great Donald Westlake had written spy thrillers instead of crime capers, they'd read a lot like the opening weeks of the Trump administration.
  • UPDATE: Campus carry bill amended by Senate to require training

    The Senate this morning added an amendment to Rep. Charlie Collins campus carry bill that incorporates the effort denied in committee yesterday to require a 16-hour additional training period before university staff members with concealed carry permits may take the weapons on campus.

Latest in Top Stories

  • Good for the soul

    The return of Say McIntosh, restaurateur
    • Jun 1, 2010
  • Robocalls are illegal

    Robocalls -- recorded messages sent to thousands of phone numbers -- are a fact of life in political campaigns. The public doesn't like them much, judging by the gripes about them, but campaign managers and politicians still believe in their utility.
    • May 31, 2010
  • Riverfest winds down

    With Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, Steve Miller Band, Robert Cray, Ludacris and more performing.
    • May 30, 2010
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28  

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation