Neighborhood Watch groups makes Boone-Murphy House home

The Civil War-era Boone-Murphy House was renovated with the intention of promoting its use as a meeting venue for civic groups and that goal has been reached.

The Second Avenue Neighborhood Watch group made the building, at 714 W. Fourth Ave., its regular meeting spot this year after losing their previous venue at the Jefferson County Historical Museum because of the death of longtime volunteer Lynn Gaines.

Pine Bluff Police Department Sgt. David Williams serves as a contact between the department and the various city Neighborhood Watch groups. Williams said he asked the mayor’s office about using the Boone-Murphy House. They agreed, and the group started using it in January.

Williams said that either he or Sgt. Jose Thompson is at each meeting of the city’s Neighborhood Watch groups.

Second Avenue Neighborhood Watch President Emma Lafette said that Boone-Murphy has accommodated her group well.

“[Lynn Gaines’ wife, Elizabeth] wife told us about the Boone-Murphy House,” Lafette said. “It really is a nice building. I hung some curtains in the bathroom for privacy but it’s really a nice place to meet.”

Economic and Community Development Department Assistant Director Lori Walker said that because the Boone-Murphy House was renovated using funds from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there are restrictions on who can utilize the space.

“The city used Community Development Block Grant funds for the renovation and because of that the Boone-Murphy House is not supposed to be used by any city government groups,” Walker said.

“So we want community groups to be able to make use of this historic building,” Walker said.

Local businessman Harold Terry has attended several meetings of the Second Avenue group.

“They used my restaurant as a meeting place when they were in between meeting places,” Terry said. “I continued to attend meetings after they moved to the Boone-Murphy House.”

The Boone-Murphy House renovation was completed in several phases, with a dedication ceremony for the renovated building occurring June 26, 2013.

The exterior work was completed in 2011 and the interior finished in early 2013 at a total project cost of $125,000.

Walker said that any groups interested in utilizing the Boone-Murphy House for meetings are asked to call 870-534-1820, ext. 227.