Location: Little Rock, AR
Contact: Jennifer Carman, 501-744-8049
The History: Felix Gans, proprietor of a chain of clothing stores begun by his father, had this house built around 1920. After the Civil War, Arkansas had boosted its adult population by encouraging immigration. Many of the first arrivals were German Jews, including the extended Gans family, who soon became part of Little Rock’s social elite. Today, the home is on the National Register as a contributing resource to the Central High School Neighborhood Historic District.
Shown: Though many of its original features are intact, the home has been neglected for more than 20 years. Without rehabilitation, the city could order it demolished.
Why save it?: The approximately 3,500-square-foot Craftsman retains a large number of its original features. The porch boasts a glazed-tile floor that’s in excellent shape. Inside, intact elements include the staircase, trim, doors, and numerous built-ins. The kitchen’s original decorative tile floor is especially charming.
Shown: Located in a nationally recognized historic district that’s less than two miles from downtown Little Rock, the Felix Gans house is surrounded by meticulously restored homes of similar vintage.
What it needs: The structure is solid, with a closed-pier foundation, but this house suffers from a major DIY don’t: In the early 1990s, its then-owners removed a load-bearing wall, causing a rear corner to collapse. After that debacle, the property was abandoned. The current owners hired a specialist to stabilize the structure, remove debris, and salvage materials for safekeeping. Still, the hip-on-gable roof should be redone, and the plumbing and electrical systems must be replaced or brought up to code. The house currently has one kitchen and two baths; many walls are stripped to the studs, easing the path to a new layout. Its National Register status makes the Felix Gans house eligible for substantial tax credits toward rehabilitation costs. All the pieces are there—it just needs a new owner to put them back together.
Shown: Inside, most of the plaster has been stripped from the walls. Some of the 13-light windows and doors are in place, others have been removed and brought indoors.
Gable Ends Need Retouch
The house’s brick porch and siding are in great condition. The second-floor gable ends and dormer, finished in painted stucco with exposed-beam embellishments, just need touching up.
A curved staircase leads from the 2,500-square-foot first floor to an additional 1,000 square feet of living space upstairs.
Just off the kitchen, the original butler’s pantry is still in place. Built-in cabinets also flank the first-floor fireplace.
Early 90s View
An image from an Arkansas State Historic Preservation Office shows the Felix Gans house in the early 1990s, closer to when it was last occupied.
Glazed-Tile Porch Floor
The porch’s unusual glazed-tile floor is in nearly perfect condition.
Original Hex-Tile Bath Floor
The first-floor bathroom retains an original hex-tile floor with a meander-pattern border, plus subway tile on the walls.
To maintain its National Register status as a contributing resource to a historic district, the house’s exterior must be restored in a period-appropriate manner. The interior, however, has no such covenants.
Thanks to Mark Christ, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program