Eating an Elephant
McCoy taker Taborian Hall one bite at a time
By Linda Caillouet
The Chronicle – Historic Preservation News
Vol. 19, No. 1 – February-March 1992
For the past two years Kerry Thompson-McCoy has watched the weather more closely than ever before.
The reason? A dilapidated old red brick building, sans roof, known as Taborian Hall, that she purchased two years ago for $20,000.
“I drove by there every day thinking, I’ve got to get this started, I’ve got to get going,” the 37-year-old North Little Rock native said. “I’d watch more glass come out of the windows and I’d watch more roof cave in…nobody knew the weather as well as I did.”
The elements took their toll on the historic Ninth Street building. The three-story, circa 1917 building suffered the most damage when the roof caved in during an ice storm two years ago. “It’s in terrible shape. “There’s no structural problems but a lot of interior damage,” McCoy said.
But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. “I saw it on TV and thought, “I’d love to own a building like that,” McCoy recalled.
Taborian Hall, also known as Taborian Temple, was originally building lIttle Rock’s black business district to serve as the home of the Knights and Daughters of Tabor, a black fraternal organization.
McCoy, the owner of Arkansas’ Flag and Banner, is renovating the building and will relocate her business there.
But when the estimated cost of the project rose from $100,000 to $150,000 McCoy started to lose hope.
“About that time I decided to just throw in the towel and forget about it. I had been working on it for years and got sick of it,” she recalled. “Then I’d go home and think, “Where else am I going to get a building like that for that price with that location?”
So after securing financing from Twin City Bank, she decided to stick with her original plan to consolidate her business’s warehouse and manufacturing departments on the first floor of the old building, situation next to Interstate 630. Her deadline for completion is March 1992.
The second and third floors will be boarded up. “We hope to grow up to it. As money becomes available, we’ll move all the way up to the top,” McCoy said.
And McCoy’s company, currently house in an 1890s Victorian cottage is on the upswing, doing business both nationally and internationally.
“I always saw Arkansas’ Flag and Banner in a red brick, artsy building where we could throw the windows open on a spring day. I just could not see us, as casual as we are and as creative as we are, working in an aluminum building, in cubicles and not being able to see out, and trying to be creative,” she said.
According to McCoy, the back of the building, to the north, was the original struction, built in the late 1800s. The side facing the interstate was added in 1971.
The most well known feature of Taborian Hall is the third-floor Dreamland Ballroom with its hot pink walls. In the ‘30s, some greats who graced the stage included Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Duke Ellington.
Today the building’s interior paint is faded and peeling and some of the wall plaster is gone. It will all remain that way.
McCoy is planning a preservation rather than a restoration. “I’m leaving it all…all the exposed brick and chipping plaster. It will be a like a warehouse. It’ll be great. People will say ‘this must have been a great place when … “‘
The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and McCoy says she had two choices: To leave it as she found it or return it to its original condition. “You can go back and actually replaster all the walls perfectly and take it back to the way it used to be, which is outrageous. You can’t afford to do that unless you’ve got $2 million.”
She may not have that kind of money to devote to Taborian Hall, but McCoy has lost her heart to it. “It’s got an energy to it. We went down there to celebrate the new year. You really get caught up in it.”
Even her conservative-minded financial manager, Charles Fisher, loves the building.
“You have to be over there to fall in love with it. I was not for this at first. I’m real conservative and look at everything in the company from the dollar’s point of view. But I knew that we had to move because our company was growing so fast. We needed a larger area. Once I got over there and got to looking at it, I kept thinking … Now I go over there every weekend and in the evenings,” Fisher aid.
And Fisher wasn’t the only one who second-guessed McCoy. “Everyone told me, when I bought the land, to just take my licks and run. I’m so glad I didn’t,” McCoy said, smiling. “They all said, ‘Go to an aluminum building … there’s no surprises. You can get one for $200,00.’”
“But I was thinking, ‘For 50,000 more, I could be in this building and the city is going to give me a $30,000) grant for the facade program.’ So for the same price, we can be in downtown Little Rock in a great old building.”
And she will be soon. Plans include adding a new roof and new third-floor joists and flooring, removing the mildew from the walls, doing plumbing and electrical work on the first floor, replacing broken windows, and repairing the tile hall floor.
“Every wall that wasn’t a load-bearing wall is rotted and falling down so we’re just taking them down. We’ll have all exposed conduit pipes, leave the ceiling rafters exposed, and stain all the wood dark,” McCoy said of the reconstruction.
A for the fixtures: Ceiling fans and hanging fluorescent lights, all easily removable, will be added. “In case we ever want to put in some nicer stuff. But anything’s an improvement over what was there.” McCoy said.
Despite the amount of work Taborian Hall needed, McCoy said she was never overwhelmed by the project.
“I think real methodically … step by step. It’s like eating an elephant; you just take it a bite at a time.”
McCoy seems to be a shrewd businesswoman too.
“I kept thinking, ‘630, how many cars are driving by a day and can see our big sign out there? What free advertising. “‘
And it’s working. The business’s phone has been ringing off the wall.
“People call us and say. ‘I just wanted to thank you for doing that.’ Isn’t that nice?”
McCoy, who lives in Hillcrest in a 1930s home, is no stranger to downtown. As a single, she rented an apartment in an old house there. Today she ·hares her home with husband Grady and children, Meghan, 12, Gray, 4, and Matthew, I.
“My husband says he’ll kill me if l take him down the tubes with me. I told him we may have to live in it (Taborian Hall) if it doesn’t work out,” he said, smiling.
While today McCoy is cheered, not LOO long ago she was jeered by friends and family. “Everyday that’s all I heard. ‘When are you going to get that roof fixed?’ But now they’re starting to have a little more respect for us.”
Even co-workers teased her. Fisher recounted this tale: “I and someone else from the office were in Mississippi on business. We passed a building down there that was falling down and the roof was half burnt off. We said, ‘let’s stop and take a picture and see if Kerry wants to buy it.”‘
Now McCoy’· friends arc behind her 100 percent, something that is important to her. “If I was restoring a home, it would just be me, my husband and my kids going. ‘Isn’t this fun?’ But the way it is now, there’s a lot of people to share it with.”
Linda Caillouet is a writer for The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
An unexpected result of creating Friends of Dreamland is all the wonderful people I have met and the friends I have made. Milton Crenchaw was one such person.
The Friends of Dreamland had a fund raiser called “The Dreamland Drive-In Movie Series.” One summer we showed the Tuskegee Airmen movie. Milton graciously lent his fame to the fundraising event appearing to meet, sign autographs, and take pictures with everyone. He drew a big crowd of admirers, including teachers who taught his historical significance in classrooms throughout Arkansas. At 90 years old, his charm and charisma was palatable and his humility was inspiring.
Milton touched countless people’s lives and was known for many valuable societal contributions. We are proud to be able to call him one of our Friends of Dreamland Ballroom, and hope to one day honor his support in our historical space in the Taborian Hall.
See photos from the 2010 summer airing of “Tuskegee Airmen”
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture entry on Milton Pitts Crenchaw.
Wiki Entry on Milton Crenchaw
Internet Movie Database entry for “The Tuskegee Airmen.”
Just in time for the holidays! Win $500 this November!
The Friends of Dreamland are excited to announce that Graham and Associates has pledged $500 to be presented to the winners of this year’s Dancing into Dreamland on Nov. 6th in the Dreamland Ballroom.
The 6th Annual 2015 Dancing into Dreamland will host a ‘Dancing with the Stars’ style event in which a variety of dancers from all dancing styles compete for judges and audience votes.
Dancer’s application fee is $25. Proceeds go toward the restoration of the historic Taborian Hall. The 99 year old building is located at 800 West 9th Street (Arkansas flag and banner building) in downtown Little Rock. Download your application now at http://www.dreamlandballroom.com/2015auditonapp.pdf and participate in a great event, while helping save part of Little Rock’s cultural history.
Not a dancer? GREAT!! (You don’t have to get sweaty!) You get to join in the fun as a spectator and vote for your favorite performance of the night while enjoying food, drinks and taking in the history and ambiance of the Dreamland Ballroom. You’ll find yourself intrigued when you learn all the legends who have graced Dreamland’s stage like Duke Ellington, Ray Charles. Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and many more.
Order your tables or tickets online. General admission tickets are $69. Event sponsorships and box seating are available as well. Visit http://www.dreamlandballroom.com/did2015.html for more details and to order your tickets securely online.
Little Rock, Ark., (PRWEB) August 11, 2015
On November 6th, the Dreamland Ballroom will host its 6th Annual Dancing into Dreamland dance competition and fundraiser. The annual fundraiser is to generate funds for improvements and renovations to the historic 99-year-old building located at 800 West Ninth Street.
The current fundraising campaign (carried over from last year) is to raise funds to make Taborian Hall accessible to all by installing an elevator which would be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. The non-profit group, The Friends of Dreamland needs more than $700,000 to achieve their goal to have an addition and elevator added to the almost century old historic site.
This year’s fundraiser will begin at 7 pm and last until 10 pm. Celebrity judges will choose the overall winner of the dance competition while guests will vote for their favorite dancers to receive the People’s Choice Award by text voting.
A silent auction with more than $20,000 in auction items will be up for grabs during the event. Guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres along with drinks and an hour long free dance will be open for any and all guests to cut a rug.
Dreamland Ballroom is housed on the third floor of Taborian Hall built in 1916. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and hosted such musical legends as Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong. Louis Jordan, Redd Foxx and a host of other legendary artists throughout the years.
In the 1970s through the 1980s the building fell into disrepair and was rescued in 1991 by Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com’s owner Kerry McCoy. The Friends of Dreamland non-profit was formed in 2009 and has been working to save and restore this piece of Little Rock’s cultural history ever since.
The Friends of Dreamland invite the public to attend; general admission tickets are available for $69 each or guests can purchase the private balcony or one of two box seating areas or entire tables right on the dance floor. Guests can order tickets online at http://www.dreamlandballroom.com/did2015.html. Sponsorship opportunities are available as well. Contact the Friends of Dreamland at 501.255.5700 to learn more about sponsorship opportunities. Dress in party attire the night of the event.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Friday, November 6 at 800 West 9th Street, Little Rock, Ark. Entrances are on the State Street side of the building.
The Friends of Dreamland is a 501(c)(3) corporation. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Visit http://www.dreamlandballroom.org or call 501.255.5700 for details.
Historic Taborian Hall: The Heart of Arkansas Flag and Banner
Building a successful business from the ground up is hard work, but spend an hour with Kerry McCoy, founder, owner and president of Arkansas Flag and Banner, and you will know that she has what it takes.
Photo used with permission of Arkansas Flagandbanner.com. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Benjamin Krain – 2/10/15
Kerry McCoy is a touch spunky, a touch crass and a touch energetic. With a whole lot of passion and a great business sense; McCoy has taken what began as a door-to-door sales business and built it into a multimillion-dollar company known around the country.
Arkansas Flag and Banner is not just a retailer of flags but is a full-service shop as well. They can create custom flags and banners and are also equipped to make repairs to your flags as needed. Arkansas Flag and Banner has some “big” customers like McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, and even Disney, yet they pride themselves on giving all customers five-star treatment. When you call Arkansas Flag and Banner, you will speak to a real person six days a week during business hours. When you purchase a flag, you will be contacted twice a year to ensure that your flag is in top-notch condition. If your flag needs repairs, they will arrange that for you. If the flag is beyond repair, they will properly retire the flag for you and provide you with a coupon toward the purchase of a new flag.
Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame Announces Class of 2015
Mary Osteen, communications specialist
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
The Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame induction ceremonies take place September 29, 2015. Authorized by the Arkansas General Assembly and governed by the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame Board, the Hall exists to honor individuals with Arkansas connections who have made significant contributions to the entertainment arts. The exhibits commemorating the members are permanently housed on display in the Pine Bluff Convention Center. This year’s inductees are as follows:
Little Rock, Ark., – On Saturday, June 20, 2015 Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com will join forces with the Mosiac Templars Cultural Center for their celebration of Juneteenth , a holiday that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in June 1865, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth, and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in most states.
Juneteenth is a time for reflection and forward thinking for people all across America. A variety of entertainment is planned for this block party style celebration that has something for everyone. Attendees will find live music, children’s activities, food trucks, non-profits, and vendor booths ranging from clothing to food. More than 1,200 people were in attendance last year with more than 50 participating vendors, performers and sponsors.
Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com will host two exhibits: The History of the Taborian Hall and the Dreamland Ballroom with the opportunity to enjoy tours of the ballroom. Construction began in 1916 and since then Taborian Hall has been an integral part of the Little Rock African American Culture ever since. The Dreamland Ballroom on the third floor became a popular stop on the famous Chitlin’ Circuit where musical greats such as Ray Charles, B.B. King, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington performed among others. It also has a strong military history as the building served as the USO for African American soldiers during World War II. Currently the Dreamland Ballroom is undergoing further restoration efforts. It is one of the last remaining original ballrooms in America.
The second exhibit is “Old School: Remembering the Brinkley Academy” visitors will see how a school in rural eastern Arkansas served the needs of African American students who received direction and inspiration for nearly six decades through an exhibit of photographs.
Exhibits open at 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Dreamland Ballroom tours are at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and are free to the public. Please note that the ballroom is on the third floor. Those wishing to tour it should be aware that there is no elevator. Currently the Friends of Dreamland Ballroom are raising funds to have an elevator installed for the disabled. If you would like to make a tax deductible contribution to the Friends of Dreamland Elevator Fund call 501.255.5700 or visit them online at www.dreamlandballroom.org. For more information on the Taborian Hall exhibits for the Juneteenth celebration contact Madison@flagandbanner.com .