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The city’s first benefit designer house to feature the work of only African-American decorators — and to be located east of Interstate 30 — will open this weekend with two parties to raise funds for Arkansas Baptist College.

Garbo Hearne, owner of Hearne Fine Art; Jimmy Cheffen of Mediums gallery, and Carol Norris of Norris Furniture formed Designing in the Neighborhood LLC last summer after brainstorming on ways to promote black interior designers and landscapers. After Hearne’s husband, Dr. Archie Hearne, and partner Ernest Waddell bought a house at 918 Welch St. and updated it as part of an effort to revitalize the neighborhood, Garbo Hearne and Cheffen started wondering about who the area’s black designers might be. They went to Norris, who started calling around and found the names of nine interior decorators, including two recent graduates from the University of Central Arkansas at Conway. Landscaping was done by McKissick Landscaping and Design. Designers are Norris, Jennifer Johnson, Paula Everette, Candice and Constance Carter, Sandra Givens and Bobby and Leola Gray.

Garbo Hearne came up with the idea of donating the proceeds from the tours to Arkansas Baptist, a historically black college in Little Rock, and to time it to coincide with the school’s Delta Classic for Literacy football game between Grambling State and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. That game kicks off at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at War Memorial Stadium (see Jim Harris’ column on the game on page 29). The game is a benefit for the Arkansas Literacy Council’s reading programs in the Delta.

The designers have decorated 10 rooms in the house, a Craftsman-style cottage built just after the turn of the 20th century. The house opens with a Southern Garden Party at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13. A pre-game Open House is set for 10 a.m. Saturday. Tickets are $20 for the garden party and open house and an unlimited number of tours, $15 for the open house and an unlimited number of tours and $10 for a one-time visit, during the open house or later. Tours begin Sunday, Oct. 15. Hours are 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Tours will run through Oct. 29.

Keller-Williams Realty will hold free workshops for first-time home buyers from 10 a.m. to noon each Saturday.

The house is for sale for $145,000; an amount equal to a realtor’s fee will go to Arkansas Baptist.

For tickets, call Linda Gillam at 244-5110.


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