27 Oct 2013 A century of grandeur
by RaeLynn Callaway
Wow! Did you know the Frauenthal Estate is 100 years old this month? Through research and interviews, I realized there is even more to appreciate about this exquisite mansion other than just its age.
Walking through the house I was reminded of the grandeur for the time, admiring all the intricate details that were done by hand — the craftsmanship in the trim, moldings, beams, paneling and the custom stained glass. The mosaic floors, tiled walls and all the beautiful wood work are a sight to behold.
The boiler room, coal room, central vacuum system, laundry shoot and dumb waiter were all cutting edge for its era. There is even a bell system that would ring the help when they were needed. I was enamored by the ingenuity and imagination of the skilled artisans that worked here.
I wasn’t able to talk to all the families, but I did get the opportunity to sit down with Jo Ellen Ford and Beverly Pascoe, daughters of the late Hugh and Edith Wilbourn. Listening to the sisters reminisce and recall a lot of fond memories of the home and their family’s time there, I was caught up in the aura of days gone by. I could see them running and skipping, playing and hiding, laughing and smiling. They lived in a time of community — hosting people and parties, music and dancing, friends and family.
They spoke of the history of the house with its magnificent, formal gardens and greenhouse, how they were told the columns on the front of the house were brought from France by boat down the river and how they used horse and wagon to bring them in from Toad Suck. They spoke of their mom’s studio in the attic where she drew, painted and sketched her children and nature using charcoal, watercolors and oil. They also articulated the sadness they felt when they found out they were leaving this darling and moving to Little Rock.
I’m so grateful I was given the opportunity to recognize what a treasure this house is to this city — not only for its historical value and craftsmanship but also because the lives lived here made and fostered what this community was and would become. I am thankful as a designer and a member of this community for the commitment of Conway Regional Health Systems to restore and maintain the integrity of this historic treasure we call the Frauenthal Estate.
- The existing house was built in 1913 by Jo and Ida Baridon Frauenthal after a fire burned the original three-story home in 1910.
- The home is a neoclassical, colonial revival style (also neocolonial, Georgian revival or Neo-Georgian). This style often places its emphasis on symmetry and proportion.
- The architect was Charles L. Thompson. He also designed the state Capitol.
- The 5,000-square-foot home has 22 rooms, and the original estate consisted of 40 acres.
- In the late 1940s, the ownership went to the Fausetts.
- In the 1950s, Hugh and Edith Wilbourn bought the property and lived there with their children, Jo Ellen (Ford), Beverly (Pascoe), Hugh and Mary Nell (Shaw).
- It sold in 1965 to Charles Chamberlain.
- It was owned by Dr. Richard and Margo Doss from 1977-82.
- It was bought in 1982 by Conway Regional Medical Center and was added to the National Historic Registry that same year.
- In 1995 it was leased to Help for Abuse Victims in Emergency Need (HAVEN), a shelter for neglected girls.
- 2007-present: It became home to the marketing and foundation departments for the Conway Regional Health System.
A board certified interior designer, RaeLynn Callaway owns CYInteriors (raelynncallaway.com). She and her husband, Bart, have three children and live in Conway.