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The Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center, which was formally dedicated on April 12, 2014, occupies two of the oldest surviving buildings in downtown Calico Rock (Izard County): the E. N. Rand Building (built in 1903) and the Bluff City Bank Building (built in 1896). The museum foundation also owns the 1906 Calico Rock Progress Building, which houses a café and ice cream parlor. While the museum preserves and displays the art and history of the community, it also has a contract with the City of Calico Rock to provide visitor center services.
In 2007, a group of interested citizens formed the Calico Rock Organization for Revitalization Efforts (CORE) and began searching for a location to establish a museum to collect and preserve local history, as well as to promote tourism to the area. The next year, CORE signed an agreement with the city council to develop exhibits in a back room of the former bank building, which housed the Chamber of Commerce offices. In June 2008, the nonprofit Calico Rock Museum Foundation was chartered.
In 2009, Jim Murphy, owner of the Rand building, offered to sell the building to the foundation at the discounted price of $80,000. The foundation accepted his offer and immediately began fundraising to pay for the purchase. The First National Bank of Izard County extended a mortgage to the foundation, which was paid in full by 2014.
The Rand building was in poor condition and required considerable repair and remodeling, much of which was completed with labor by prisoners from the nearby Arkansas Department of Correction North Central Unit. Among the projects completed were window replacement, lighting repair, and a new roof. Exhibits opened in the building in January 2011. During the renovations, the Calico Rock Artisans Cooperative was formed and, in July 2010, it opened retail space in the building. More than twenty retail booths operate on the ground floors of the two museum buildings.
In 2012, the city sold the bank building to the foundation for one dollar. The museum has received grants from the Arkansas Humanities Council and, in 2013, received an exhibit award from the Arkansas Museums Association. In 2014, a docent program was started. The museum also provides a variety of educational programs to local schools. Three yearly events—Bootleggers Daze in March, Native American Days in September, and Living Windows in December—are sponsored by the museum.
For additional information:Calico Rock Museum and Visitor Center. http://calicorockmuseum.com/ (accessed August 27, 2015).
Varno, Susan. “Big Museum at the Heart of Small Town.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, March 27, 2014, pp. 2S, 4S.
Mike Polston Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Last Updated 9/4/2015
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