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Project REACH: an undertaking by Black River Technical College to restore the historic Rice House, one of the state's oldest structures still on its original foundation. The project is funded through a grant from Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resource Council. Nearby, just across the Eleven Point River, stands the old Looney Tavern/Inn, just a few years younger than the Rice House, which is also due for restoration...


Restoration Work Brings Changes, New Discoveries
(From "The River's Edge" newsletter of Black River Technical College,
 Pocahontas, Volume 6 Issue 11.)
The long-awaited restoration of the Rice-Upshaw House near Dalton moved into full gear in July. The first month’s efforts have produced significant changes and brought a few new discoveries. With the removal of much of the non-original materials, the 180-year-old log structure has a “new” old look—one that gives hint of what the final result will be once the historic building is restored to an 1836-era inter-pretation. The projected completion date is March 2009. Project Architect Tommy Jameson of Little Rock terms the visible work to date as mostly "selective demolition," and said the

work of the past few weeks has “proceeded carefully and well.” In addition to the removing of siding and other fabrics to expose the logs, workers also disassembled the stone chimney in preparation for upcoming phases of work. This will involve removal of the south porch followed by carefully bracing the walls so that the  entire  structure  can  be  lifted  to

allow for pouring new foundation piers. Elevating the structure will also make possible further investigation by the Arkansas Archeological Survey, this time to examine the soil beneath the house to learn more of its original form and function.

Current time projections call for the AAS to be on-site during the first two weeks of September. The stone chimney will be reconstructed to what researchers believe to be its original size, somewhat larger than the just-dismantled chimney. “Based on an early photo and other evidences,” Jameson said “we believe this was not the original chimney, though in all likelihood it had been constructed with the stones from the original chimney. So when the chimney is reconstructed, we will use as many of these stones as possible.” The project’s stonemason, Ken Hurd of Sparta, Missouri, along with Eric Samons of Mountain Home, log specialist, were on hand to assess the condition of the stone and the logs and to determine what additional materials would be required for the restoration work. During the precleaning phase, workers with KMC Contractors discovered several artifacts in the debris under  the stairs

and in the upstairs area. These included what are believed to be additional pieces to the loom which had been stored on the rafters for many years. One of the pieces appears to be a well-preserved shuttle. In addition, workers found a small device apparently once used for pouring lead shot. Numerous paper documents, including old checks, holiday cards, and old letters were also recovered.

The restoration of the Rice- Upshaw structure and the Looney- French Tavern/Inn, along with related research on the two historic log structures, are at the heart of Project REACH (Researching Early Arkansas Cultural Heritage), a project of Black River Technical College. The work is made possible by the donation of the two properties to the college by family descendants of the structure’s builders, Reuben Rice and William Looney, in 1828 and 1833, respectively. Funding for the project is provided by grants from Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resource Council. For more information on the project, contact Dr. Jan Ziegler at janz ((at)) blackrivertech.edu.

 

 

The Looney Tavern/Inn, located on the west side of the Eleven Point River, will be restored following completion of the Rice House. This structure was built in 1833 by William Looney, one of the earliest Anglo-American settlers in present-day Randolph County.