Saturday, July 17, 2010

TOP STORY > >An elegant home has historic roots

Leader staff writer

One of Lonoke’s most noteworthy homes, a Tudor Revival designed by one of Arkansas’ most respected early-20th Century architects and built by a dynamic political figure, is for sale.

Known as the John M. Bransford House, John Parks Almond was the architect.

Just down the block is a home at 518 Center St. designed by another highly revered Arkansas architect of the era, Charles Thompson.

The 2,800-square-foot home at 506 S. Center St. has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a guesthouse, and the asking price is $299,999.

Bransford was the first, and for a time the only, man to serve consecutive terms as speaker of the Arkansas House, and he was speaker around 1940, when the General Assembly created the run-off for preferential primaries. He served in the General Assembly from 1937 through 1942.

He ran for lieutenant governor, dropping out before election day, according to his son, John M. Bransford Jr.

The older Bransford was the uncle of Dick Bransford, a Lonoke farmer and cotton ginner.

By trade, John Bransford was a cotton broker for Anderson Clayton, and after World War II was probably the first industrial-development director for the state, according to his son.

Accounts differ, but the house was built around 1929.

“I grew up in the Depression,” said the son, who lived in the house until he graduated from Lonoke High School in 1948 and enrolled at the University of Arkansas.

Today he’s retired and lives in Shreveport.

Almond has at least two buildings on the National Registry of Historical Places and some remodeling at the Bransford House may have been the only disqualifier to its inclusion.

He has been recognized for his work on the Land’s End Plantation at Scott—also a Tudor Revival style home—and for the nationally acclaimed Central High School in Little Rock. Almond was one of four architects credited with the design of Central.

The Land’s End Plantation house—also known as the James Robert Alexander House, designed in 1925, was completed in 1927, the same time frame as the Bransford House.

Almond came to Little Rock in 1912 to work with the architectural firm of Charles L. Thompson. 

In 1915, Almond left Thompson’s firm and established a private practice. 

He was particularly known for church design and his work is found throughout Arkansas.  Another of his best-known designs is the Medical Arts Building in Hot Springs.