Project REACH is closed due to the COVID-19 circumstances
On the REACH website, learn ABOUT REACH, the RESTORATION story, and the HISTORY of Anglo-American and African-American settlement in the Eleven Point River Valley two centuries ago. Explore EDUCATION to see how BRTC students are connecting to the past through Project REACH. Throughout the website VIDEOS help to tell the story.
Researching Early Arkansas Cultural Heritage
The restoration of the Rice-Upshaw structure and the Looney-French Tavern/Inn, along with related research on the two historic log structures, are at the heart of the Project REACH (Researching Early Arkansas Cultural Heritage), a project of Black River Technical College. The Rice House has been documented by dendrochronology as being the oldest known existing log structure of its type in Arkansas, with a construction date of 1828. The Looney Tavern/Inn was constructed slightly later, in 1833. The structures were built by Reuben Rice and William Looney, pioneering individuals who were acquaintances even before they migrated with their families from Tennessee to Arkansas in the pre-statehood era. Looney is believed to have arrived in Randolph County with his African American slaves in 1803, while Rice is believed to have arrived by wagon train with members of the extended family in 1812. The two structures, located near Dalton on opposite sides of the Eleven Point River, remained in possession of family descendants until they were donated to BRTC for preservation. They will be restored to an 1836 interpretation date. The project to restore the two structures has spawned numerous studies to date, with extensive additional educational activity anticipated. “We are very excited about the promise of this project to allow many educational opportunities through which we are learning significant pieces of the history of our community and our state,” said Dr. Jan Ziegler, Vice President for Development at BRTC. “We know that once they are completed, these two houses will be a destination point for visitors and tourists as well as for students and researchers.”
The work is made possible by the donation of the two properties to the college by Jean Upshaw and by Jack and Christina French, family descendants of, Reuben Rice and William Looney. Funding for the projects is provided by grants from Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resource Council.