During 1949 and 1950, the Old State House underwent extensive
restoration. Little money was allotted to actually run the museum,
however, and Agnes Loewer faced a daunting task when she took charge of
the museum in 1951. "We had an empty building on our hands and an
uncharted course ahead," Leower recalled to a local reporter. "But we
knew the furnishings we needed were in the possession of Arkansas
families, and we believed there would be enough civic-minded citizens
and organizations to make them all available."
particularly counted on the patriotic women's organizations, which had
been her allies in the fight to save the building. In the back of
everyone's mind was the fear that the state might backslide and house
wayward state agencies at the Old State House to save some money. The
various women's organizations rushed to furnish rooms as a way of
establishing residence. "Only a portion of the building has been
furnished as it was originally, the rest being furnished as living rooms
of various periods of history," acknowledged Mrs. Loewer's 1951 tour
script. The trend of installing period rooms reflecting American
decorative arts began in the early 20th century and remained popular
through the middle of the century. Mrs. Loewer was following a national
trend by placing domestic furnishings in a non-domestic building.
The Period Rooms on display at the Old State House Museum are furnished by the following organizations:
The Women Who Saved the Building
Although no one has ever lived at the Old State House, the museum has five parlors and one hallway depicting different eras of furniture and decorative styles ranging from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. These rooms are examples of some of the earliest exhibits in the museum and are also a tribute to the women in different patriotic organizations who fought to save the Old State House from destruction. Learn more about the movement to save the building.