Lakeport Legacies, Lakeport Plantation’s monthly history talk, will feature Dr. John Kyle Day’s presentation “UAM’s Historic Properties and Tourism in Southeast Arkansas.” The event is set for September 25.
Dr. Day will discuss the university’s plans to create a Southeast Arkansas Heritage Trail anchored by its three historic properties: World War II Italian POW Camp near Monticello, the law office of Arkansas Governor Xenophon Overton Pindall in Arkansas City, and the 1846 Taylor House on the Hollywood Plantation near Winchester.
The university acquired 4.66 acres of the Hollywood Plantation, the location of the Taylor family cemetery and a historic log home believed to be the last example in Arkansas’ lower Delta region of an intact two-story, cypress log dog-trot structure. The structure was built between 1840 and 1846 and occupied through the late 1920s.
An outbuilding originally located on the property was moved from the site and placed behind the Drew County Museum. Once thought to be a cabin, it is now believed that it was a smokehouse. Lassiter discussed the possibility of eventually returning the outbuilding to its original location. The Arkansas Archeological Survey recently used remote sensing to determine where the outbuildings were once located.
The university last year received $150,000 from the state General Improvement Fund to restore former Gov. Xenophon Overton Pindall’s Arkansas City law office to its original condition. When restored, the brick structure will become a museum housing artifacts and photographs of the history of Arkansas City and former Gov. Pindall, who became acting governor of Arkansas on February 11, 1907 and served until January 11, 1909.
Located less than 20 minutes from the UAM College of Technology in McGehee, the building will also provide a learning opportunity for hospitality management interns from the McGehee campus who will staff the facility.
The renovation and restoration project is part of a long-range plan by Arkansas City community leaders to make the area a tourist destination on the planned Southeast Arkansas Heritage Trail.
One of the state’s oldest towns, Arkansas City is located on the Mississippi River and has nature and walking paths on nearby Choctaw Island.
The university in 1958 acquired what was originally an 812-acre tract of land where the Italian Prisoner of War Camp was located. Over the years, parts of the property were sold for industrial recruitment efforts and part was leased to the Drew County Fair Association.
One section of the property housed all of the captured senior Italian military officers, including Gen. Annibale Bergonzoli who led the ill-fated invasion of Egypt. Bergonzoli, dubbed “Electric Whiskers” by the media because of his flaming red beard, went mad at Camp Monticello and was later transferred to a hospital in Oklahoma where he attempted suicide.
The vast majority of the structures at Camp Monticello were repurposed decades ago but some relics remain, including a concrete bunker, an 80-foot chimney that was part of the steam plant that serviced the camp hospital, and remnants of the steam plant.
The discussion is September 25 at the Lakeport Plantation in Lake Village. Refreshments and conversation is at 5:30 pm and the program begins at 6 p.m. This event is free, but guests are asked to RSVP to 870-265-6031.
Lakeport Legacies is a monthly history talk typically held on the last Thursday of the month at the Lakeport Plantation. Each month a topic from the Delta region is featured. The event is free and open to the public. Lakeport Legacies meets at Lakeport Plantation, located at 601 Hwy 142 in Lake Village.