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Lakeport Grand Opening celebration
activities scheduled for late September

(download complete information packet in PDF format. Contents include:
Page 1-2: General news release (same document as below)
Page 3: Schedule of Events
Page 4: Significance of Lakeport Plantation
Page 5: Professional Development Day for Teachers
Page 6: Reunion Schedule
Page 7-10: Timeline at Lakeport
Page 11: Fact Sheet)

(download contact information for Restoration Team)

(driving directions in last paragraph below)

Lake Village, Ark., Sept. 11, 2007 - The Lakeport Plantation, one of Arkansas's premier historic structures, will open officially as a museum and educational center during ceremonies and activities open to the public on Friday, Sept. 28.

The plantation was donated to Arkansas State University in 2001 by the Sam Epstein Angel family, and the university has received nearly $6 million in grants for its restoration as a national model for preservation standards.

Though work on the house is not yet complete, Project Director Ruth Hawkins noted that the restoration has reached a stage whereby the house can be shared with the public as remaining work proceeds.

"In time the house will include exhibits in each room," Hawkins said.   "These will focus on the lives of those who lived and worked at the Lakeport Plantation over the years, as well as the craftsmanship that went into the house, and the preservation techniques utilized in saving it."

There is no intent to ever furnish the house, according to Hawkins, although pieces of family furniture and other artifacts original to the house will be featured as part of the exhibit plan.

Highlight of the Sept. 28 Grand Opening event will be a public ceremony and presentations at 3:15 p.m. on the Lakeport Plantation lawn, followed by a reception also open to the public.  Other public events during the day include a Grand Opening Symposium, featuring members of the restoration team discussing various aspects of the restoration.

The symposium will begin with a welcome at 9:30 a.m, followed immediately by a panel featuring Skip Stewart-Abernathy, Russellville station archeologist for the Arkansas Archeological Survey, and Dr. Thomas DeBlack, associate professor of history at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.  Stewart-Abernathy was involved with archeological investigations at the site, while DeBlack's dissertation on the history of Lakeport and the Johnson family is being updated and will soon be published in book format.

Presentations at 10:45 a.m. will feature Claudia Cathcart Shannon of Shannon Design Enterprises in Jonesboro, restoration team director, and Charles Witsell of Witsell Evans Rasco in Little Rock, project architect. 

Afternoon programs will begin with a 12:30 p.m. demonstration of restoration techniques by Ronnie Walker, Lakeport facilities manager and graduate of the Arkansas Institute for Historic Building Trades in Helena, and Becky Witsell of Studio Werk in Little Rock, a nationally recognized expert on historic decorative finishes. 

Three students in the Arkansas State University Heritage Studies Ph.D. program will present results of their research related to the African American history of Lakeport at 1:30 p.m.  Students include Nicole Smith-Neal, Aketa Guillory and Rose Ong'oa-Morara.

A Plantation Luncheon will be served from 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and is open to all attendees at the symposium at no charge, but reservations must be made in advance.

Other events associated with the Grand Opening include a Lakeport Professional Development Day for teachers on Thursday, Sept. 27, and a Greater Johnson Family Reunion on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 29-30. Pre-registration for the Thursday and weekend events is required.

To reserve a space for lunch on Friday, or to pre-register for the Teacher Workshop on Thursday or the Family Reunion on Saturday-Sunday, contact Paula Miles at 870-972-2803 no later than Friday, Sept. 21.

(Driving directions: From Lake Village, proceed south on U.S. 65 about five miles to the junction with U.S. 82. Proceed on U.S. 82 about five miles east to the community of Shives. Turn south on Arkansas 142, proceed about five miles to Lakeport.)

(Click on thumbnail photo to access higher resolution version)

Lakeport in the 1920s

Lakeport in 2001

Interior restoration underway

Restoration in progress.

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