In the year 1901 we had art classes in El Dorado. Three of the ladies that were in the class then were as follows: Mrs. Howard (Eva) Garison, Mrs. Jim (Mayme) Rowland and Mrs. L. K. (Violet) McKinney. We have some of their paintings on hand. They were excellent.
In 1908, 1910, and 1912 Miss Pearl Steedman from Smackover taught classes in water color, oils and china painting. She taught in Mrs. Albert Rowell’s home in 1912 and 1913. Our next teacher was Mr. Maude Smith from Searcy. After then we had several other teachers. All these years we had no place to hold classes. We did have one class in the old YWCA building. We just went from place to place.
Jean McDavid, Marguerite McDavid, Myrt Hill and Sara Ragsdale met with Judge Ragsdale and the city council and got permission to teach in the old library building on the corner of Elm and Jackson..(Our Chamber of Commerce is there now.) We had several classes there taught by local teachers Mayme Hostetter, Marguerite and Myrt Hill. Out of town teachers were Charles Woodruff from Houston, Mrs. Luphelia Middlebrooks from Stephens and a man teacher from Lafayette.
We were informed that the building had to be torn down for the Chamber of Commerce to be built. We asked Mrs. Bart (Mable) Mahony for the Bart Mahony old store building on North Madison. She let us have it rent free but we paid her a small token. Mrs. Bart (Mabel) Mahony is in Hudson Nursing home. We moved to the new location and patched the old building up as best we could. The front glass had been broken and we replaced it with second hand glass. Mrs. Frank (Mary) Cook brought tin lids and nailed over the holes in the floor. Aaron and Janet Morgan with help from two other couples painted the walls inside of the building apple green.
Mayme Hostetter, Myrt Hill and Leona Spence decorated the front of the building with Dutch figures and tulips. We had several classes there by out-of-town teachers.
One day we got lucky. Charles Murphy visited us and asked what we thought of the armory building for a place for the Art Center. We were delighted. He asked us how much money we had. We told him $23.00. He said he thought the armory building was an “eye sore” to our pretty library.
Charles also said that he felt sorry for the women working in that old store. He got together a group of men and they came up with a solution. Jess Merkle, Jean McDavid, Kavanaue Dodson (who was Charles’ representative) and Joe Duerson met there one night and started things moving.
The Art League moved to the armory building and taught classes there until they started remodeling. We had our first art show at the McDavid Buick Co. building. Bill Boswell helped us with that and he also helped us organize our Art League January 9.
Leona Spence was our first president of the Art League 1957-1959. Jess was our first president of the Art Center. Murphy Foundation bought (the) property (from) private donations.