Researching a historic home in order to apply for National Register of Historic Places status, to determine if a house is eligible for National Register status, or to make plans about restoration seems like a daunting task to those who haven’t done this kind of research before. Thankfully, greater Little Rock has several options for researching your house.
Determine if your house is on the National Register of Historic Places
Check the Arkansas Historic Preservation Database. The database can be a bit tricky, particularly if you don’t know your house’s historic name. It can also be tricky if you don’t know that your house is listed on the register as part of a historic district. The vast majority of properties in the greater Little Rock area are listed on the National Register as part of a district and may not have a NR nomination form that is individual to the property. That may mean that your property will not show up in a database search, but is actually NR listed.
Tips for Using the Arkansas Historc Preservation Database
- Go to this link: https://www.arkansasheritage.com/arkansas-preservation/properties/national-registry
- Scroll down until you see “Search The National Register Listings In Arkansas Below”
- “Keyword” search usually applies only to the historic name of the property. If you know the name or the name of the district, you can put it in here.
- If you choose to search a whole county, you will have scroll through every listing in a county to see if yours is individually listed.
- If you choose to search “Architectural Style,” you’ll need to know the style of your house as listed by AHPP to find it this way.
- Once you put in your search terms, you will find a list of properties that fit your criteria. In order to find out more about the property, click on the link that says “View PDF.” That PDF will take you to the National Register of Historic Places Nomination form for that property. This form was used by the National Park Service as the basis for placing a property on the National Register. It includes an architectural description of the property, the history of the property, photographs, and sometimes maps.
- If you think your property might be part of a district, but not individually listed and you aren’t sure which district, you can look up National Register nominations for districts and review that document to see if the address is listed, or view maps that show the district boundaries
What to do if you can’t find your property in the database
To double check the status of your property if you can’t find it in the AHPP database, call the main number and ask to speak to someone in the National Register program. They should be able to look it up for your by address. The direct number is 501-324-9150.
Use the QQA Chronicle Digital Archive
The QQA Chronicle was published for nearly 40 years and covered the historic districts in downtown Little Rock and in other parts of the city. Many historic buildings and houses are included in stories in the publication. You can search by keyword, year, address, or historic name.
- Go to: http://qqachronicle.advantage-preservation.com/
- In the center of the page you will see a search box. Choose “all of the words,” “exact phrase,” or “any of the words” in the drop down menu to the left of this box, depending on your choices. You may need to experiment with your search terms and play around with this menu to get the perfect search terms.
- The words used in the search box will be highlighted when you hit the “search” button in all articles where it appears. Just click on the title of the article to see more information.
- If you need help navigating the archive, please call 501-371-0075 ext. 3 from 7:30 am to 11:30 am M-F and ask for Shelle. If you can’t reach Shelle, then call 501-371-0075 ext. 4 and ask for Patricia. If we are not in the office, we will return your call as soon as possible.
Use the QQA archives at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Bobby Roberts Library
The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Bobby Roberts Library has possession of 50 years’ worth of research and materials donated by the QQA. There are files about everything from individual houses to QQA events. The first stop is to look at the QQA files for individual properties.
- Check the finding Aid for the QQA materials at the Butler Center here.
- Materials in this particular collection are listed by address. Click on “Contents List” to see a list of the materials by address. Most of these addresses are relevant to Little Rock specifically, but there are property files from other portions of the county. Scroll down the “Contents List” until you find the address you are looking for. If you don’t find it, it is possible that no such folder exists. The best way to check is to call the Butler Center and have them double check for you.
- In order to get access to these files, you’ll need to take a trip to the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies on the second floor of the Bobby Roberts Library at Library Square, 401 President Clinton Ave, Little Rock, AR 72201. You will need to know exactly which box you need them to pull from the archives, which you can find out via their finding aid. The research room is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. as of April 2021. You’ll need to make an appointment. You can contact the research room directly at 501.320.5700. You can also email them at email@example.com.
Use the City Directories at the QQA Office
Sometimes, there just hasn’t been a lot of research done on a property and so we need to go back to the original sources for information like owners or when a property was built. The best way to do this is to use the city directories in the QQA office. We can help guide you through the process of using directories. You can also find some information about correctly using directories here.
Sanborn maps were intended as a method of tracking properties by insurance underwriters. They give researchers a great deal of information about how a lot or piece of land was developed over time. This information includes construction material, the purpose or use of the building, and a rough idea of it’s dimensions. Sanborn maps for Little Rock cover 1885-1950. If a property was built before 1885 or after 1950, it is likely to not show up on Sanborn maps. Learning how to interpret Sanborn Maps can take a little bit of time. You can learn more about their interpretation here. There are several places where you can access Sanborn Maps digitally for free.
- The Library of Congress has a collection of Little Rock Sanborn Maps.
- CALS (Central Arkansas Library System) offers digital Sanborns to library card holders.
- The William F. Laman Libraries in North Little Rock offers Sanborn Maps on microfilm to library card holders.
- Finally, the Arkansas State Library offers digital access to Sanborn Maps to library card holders.
Use your deed book or research at the local county courthouse
In Pulaski County, you may need to make an appointment to do research on real estate. You can find more information here.