The historic Boone-Murphy house at 714 W. Fourth Ave. has a long history, so it makes sense that its two-sided Civil War marker would contain a long account of the one-time Union Army headquarters.
Robert Tucker, Pine Bluff Inspection and Zoning Department director, told the Pine Bluff Historic District Commission in a Friday afternoon meeting that the marker contains enough information that it necessitated a surcharge. But Tucker, an advisor to the panel, said grant monies awarded to the commission will pay for the sign.
Tucker said the marker, which should be ready for placement “within a couple of months or so,” will include sponsor recognition of the commission and Heckatoo Heritage Foundation, Jefferson County Civil War Sesquicentennial Collaborative, Pine Bluff Advertising and Tourist Promotion Commission, Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council, and Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission.
The narrative on the marker’s front side will read:
Union Strategy and Pine Bluff
“Beginning with a January 1863 victory at Arkansas Post, Union strategists sought to gain control of the Arkansas River valley. Control of the region would both divide the Trans-Mississippi Confederacy and help to return a secessionist capital to the Union. U.S. forces captured Little Rock and Fort Smith in September of 1863, winning effective dominance of the river valley. A permanent garrison at Pine Bluff both cemented Union power over the lower Arkansas River and command of a vital crossroads, but also made a tempting target for Confederates.”
The reverse side will read:
“Following the Union capture of Little Rock on Sept. 10, 1863, citizens of Pine Bluff, asked that a Union garrison be stationed there for their protection. Gen. Frederick Steele sent the veteran 5th Kansas Cavalry and 1st Indiana Calvary to establish a post. Union commander Col. Powell Clayton set up his headquarters and home in the Boone-Murphy House, which was then located at 702 W. Second Ave. Clayton’s troops, aided by former slaves from nearby refugee camps, fought off Confederate attackers Oct. 25, 1863, and retained control of Pine Bluff.”
Tucker said a dedication of the marker would be scheduled and publicized. Meanwhile, Tucker suggested that the panel initiate efforts to sell an antique “ball-and-claw footed” bathtub, which needs to be removed from the structure that dates back to the pre-1860s.
Tucker also updated the commission on the Saenger Theatre, which recenty received a new roof that should negate additional leaks.
He added that a two-for-one matching state Historic Preservation Restoration Grant may be obtained for a structural condition assessment of the 92-year-old West Second Avenue structure. Old Town Theaters Centre Inc. would have to provide an initial $5,000 for an HPRG gift of $10,000.
Tucker reported, too that a state Certified Local Government Program grant of $6,000 is being sought to finance two commissioners’ participation in a July conference of the National Association of Preservation Commissioners in Norfolk, Va.
Decisions on both grant requests will be announced in June.