Albert Pike Hotel

Albert Pike Hotel
Albert Pike Hotel (on the right)

When I lived in Little Rock, I always meant to photograph the Albert Pike Hotel. It’s a retirement community now, but in the 1930s it was an elegant place. The leaded glass windows are still mostly intact, and it projects a certain presence even now. A plaque on the corner commemorates the site as the home of Robert Crittenden, a lieutenant in the war of 1812 who was the Governor of Arkansas from 1819-1829.

But that isn’t what interests me about the site. Erskine Caldwell and Margaret Bourke-White stayed here when they were on the road trip that produced You Have Seen Their Faces. According to multiple sources (that I don’t have with me to cite), their big affair started here at this hotel. Caldwell’s secretary left him in a huff, and the pair soldiered on alone. If I remember correctly, Bourke-White had a trunk full of praying mantis eggs she was wanted to photograph as they hatched as well; it was apparently a traveling zoo in more ways than one.

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