5,000 acre working Plantation near Little Rock

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas
Date added: May 28, 2024 Categories:
Main house (1996)

Land's End Plantation is an early twentieth-century working plantation. This plantation is owned and operated by the grandson of James Robert Alexander, who began Land's End Plantation in 1882. The centerpiece of the plantation is a two-and-one-half story Tudor Revival style house designed by distinguished Arkansas architect John Parks Almand in 1925 and completed in 1927. A two-story ancillary building in the same style is situated to the rear of the main house. In addition to the house and ancillary there are twenty-three outbuildings historically used in conducting the business of the plantation, and a line of pecan trees leading to the entrance of Land's End Plantation.

Land's End Plantation encompasses approximately 5,000 acres of rich farmland near Scott, Arkansas, some twenty miles southeast of Little Rock, along the Arkansas River.

The history of the community of Scott, Arkansas is a picturesque combination of pre-history (Toltec Indian Mounds; Plum Bayou) with a rich heritage as an agricultural center. Early settlers came to the area, enticed by rich Arkansas River bottom land. The Arkansas River once flowed near the community, but shifting patterns of the river have led it away from the area. The establishment of the railroad through the settlement in 1870 caused the center of activity to move from the river to the railroad crossing which ran through the property of Conoway Scott. A sign was put up at the railroad crossing which read "Scott's Crossing". Part of the sign was torn down, but "Scott's" remained for years and the community eventually became known as Scott.

One of the earliest settlers in the Scott vicinity was Chester Ashley. Ashley was a well-known attorney and United States Senator from Arkansas, 1844-1848. He owned much of the land in the Scott area and maintained a residence there called the "Ashley Mill Plantation". Before the arrival of the railroad in 1870, the community was often referred to as "Ashley Mill". In 1898 the Ashley property was purchased by Arthur Lee Alexander, who with three Alexander cousins had come to Arkansas in the mid-1880s.

One of the Alexander cousins who came to Arkansas in the 1880s was James Robert Alexander. J.R. Alexander was born in Asheville, North Carolina in 1860. He was educated in the rural schools near Asheville. Upon arriving in Arkansas by train in the mid-1880s, J.R. Alexander worked as an overseer on one of the plantations near Scott. He eventually saved enough money (combined with some he borrowed from Civil War veteran, Colonel Thomas William Steele, a large landowner in the area), to purchase his first 640 acres of land of what is today known as Land's End Plantation, seven miles south of Scott.

In 1901 James Robert Alexander and Evelyn May Crump, a native of Virginia, were married. Three children were born to the couple. The oldest son, Robert, was educated at Vanderbilt College and upon completion of his education in chemistry, returned home to operate the family plantation until his death. It is Robert Alexander's son, James R. Alexander, who now owns and operates Land's End Plantation. Another son, John Alexander, died at an early age. Daughter Evelyn Crump Alexander was the third child born to the couple. Originally from Scotland, the North Carolina Alexander family had been residents of the United States since the mid-1700s. J.R. Alexander's great-grandfather, James Alexander, was a captain in the Revolutionary war. Other members of the family also distinguished themselves in service to their country during this war. Alexander family members who remained in North Carolina were leaders in the public arena. Nathaniel Alexander served as governor of North Carolina, while others in the Alexander family were elected to the state senate and House of Representatives. Another Alexander descendant was James K. Polk, who served as president of the United States from 1845 to 1849.

The Alexanders who settled in Scott, Arkansas also carried on the family tradition of strong public service and enterprise in business matters. James Robert Alexander was not only the owner of one of the largest working plantations in Arkansas, but served in leadership roles in many statewide agricultural organizations including the Arkansas Chapter of the American Cotton Association, the Cooperative Marketing Association, Arkansas Livestock Association, Arkansas Fence Commission, and State Planters Board. He was nationally recognized for his expertise in agriculture and livestock and was often invited to speak on the subjects at conventions throughout the country.

James R. Alexander served several terms in the Arkansas legislature and was encouraged to run for a state-wide senate position in the early 1920s, but declined, stating that he had decided to perform his public duty as a private citizen. His personal goal of promoting educated agricultural practices in the state was exemplified through his hosting of tours with state legislators through the state's agricultural colleges, encouraging a stronger emphasis on teaching agriculture in the rural state.

Land's End Plantation has grown from J.R. Alexander's initial 640 acres to approximately 5,000 acres. Land's End derives it name from Alexander's wife Evelyn, who commented upon arriving at the plantation from her native Virginia, that this must be the "end of the land". The imposing Tudor Revival-style house, which is now the centerpiece of the plantation, was Mrs. Alexander's dream. After many years of living in the original modest plantation house (now razed), the Alexanders sought the professional services of distinguished Arkansas architect John Parks Almand to design a home befitting their success. Plans for the two-and-one-half-story house with a matching two-story garage and servants' quarters were drawn by Almand in August 1925. Tragically, Mrs. Alexander died the following month, never seeing her dream come to fruition.

Despite the death of Mrs. Alexander, construction of the massive Tudor Revival style house was begun in late 1925. Construction was completed in 1927, for $85,000. The house and two-story garage/servants' quarters have remained virtually unaltered since their construction.

Architect John Parks Almand (1885-1969) is most noted for his design of Little Rock's Central High School. A native of Georgia, Almand graduated from Columbia University in 1911, where he was second in his class. After graduation, he worked for an American firm in Havana, Cuba, as head of their architectural division. He came to Little Rock in 1912 to work with the architectural firm of Charles L. Thompson. In 1915 Almand left Thompson's firm and established a private practice. Almand was particularly gifted at church design and his work is found throughout Arkansas. Another of Mr. Almand's best-known designs is the Medical Arts Building in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The sixteen-story Art Deco style design was constructed in 1929-1930 and was the tallest building in Arkansas until the late 1950s. In 1934 Almand was selected as one of twenty-one architects in the country to work with the supervising architect's office of the U. S. Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. He later worked with a developer in Washington who planned several large buildings in downtown Washington, but the prospect of war in 1941 significantly slowed private construction. For a short time during World War II, Almand worked as construction engineer for naval air stations in Michigan and Texas. In 1943 John Parks Almand returned to Little Rock and re-established his private practice which he operated until 1963 when he retired for health reasons. Almand died in 1969, only a few weeks from his 85th birthday.

John Parks Almand loved architecture and loved to design. He was guided by an idealistic nature and believed being an architect was a special calling, with obligations not only to the client, but also to the future. In his design of the imposing Tudor Revival style house and ancillary for plantation owner J.R. Alexander, Almand's attention to detail is highly visible. According to his son, Almand personally selected the stones that face exterior walls of the house from Pinnacle Mountain, near Little Rock. It is said that he was even involved in the placement of the stones on the walls. The J.R. Alexander House at Land's End Plantation is undoubtedly one of Almand's finest residential designs.

Almand's attention to detail carried through to the grounds surrounding the house. His drawings and plans for the Alexanders included stone walls, flagstone terraces, and brick walkways, designed to compliment the house. A two-story building to the rear of the house in the same Tudor Revival style was designed as a garage on the first floor with servants' quarters on the second story. The interiors of the main house feature extensive use of teak wood in floors and paneling, ornamental plaster work, and an impressive circular staircase. Closets and storage in the bedrooms were designed behind sliding wood panels in the walls. A central steam heating system and colorful tiled bathrooms were just part of the amenities of Almand's design for the Alexander family.

Twenty-three outbuildings whose construction dates range from 1900 to 1949 are located about one-half of a mile to the west of the house. All of these buildings are historically associated with the day-to-day operation of the plantation. The buildings include grain bins, a cotton gin and warehouse, equipment sheds, barns, a blacksmith shop, a wagon shed, and repair shops.

This collection of buildings is all part of what was called "Central Headquarters" of the plantation. During its heyday (1900-1930), Land's End Plantation was a sharecropping system with approximately 150 families living and working on the land. Only one of the original tenant houses remains.

Although none of the twenty-three outbuildings are currently used, they are a significant part of the plantation's history and have been carefully retained by the grandson of their builder.

Site Description

Land's End Plantation is a working plantation, located approximately twenty miles southeast of Little Rock in the Arkansas River Delta. The plantation in its entirety currently consists of over 5,000 acres, the centerpiece of the plantation is a large two-and-one-half story Tudor Revival style house. A pecan tree line leads to the entrance of the plantation, and twenty-three related outbuildings historically used in the day-to-day operations of the plantation surrounds the site.

Land's End Plantation is located approximately twenty miles southeast of Little Rock, near the historic farming community of Scott, Arkansas. The Arkansas River runs near the area and the rich soil of the Arkansas River Delta is among the most productive soil in the country. Scott is located near the western edge of the Arkansas Delta where the altitude is less than 200 feet.

The centerpiece of Land's End Plantation is a large two-and-one-half story Tudor Revival style house and two-story garage and servants' quarters. Approximately one-half mile to the rear (west) of the house are twenty-three outbuildings, all closely associated with and the day-to-day business of this working plantation. When approaching Land's End Plantation on Arkansas Highway 161, the straight road through flat fields is dramatically transformed and shaded by a line of pecan trees on both sides of the road which have grown to form a canopy. These trees were planted by James Robert Alexander around 1900, and provide a striking contrast to the surrounding fields.

The Alexander family home, which was the second on the plantation, is the centerpiece of Land's End Plantation. On its own, it is an outstanding example of the Tudor Revival style of architecture. In 1925, J. R. Alexander commissioned noted Arkansas architect John Parks Almand, who is credited for the design of Little Rock's Central High School to design a new home for his family which would reflect their business success. Construction of the house took almost two years and was completed in 1927 for $85,000. Mr. Almand's plans for the house appear to have been carried out to the smallest detail. Except for the screening of a front porch and enclosure of a rear service porch, the house has remained virtually unaltered since its construction.

The house Almand designed for the J. R. Alexander family is a large two-and-one-half-story residence in the Tudor Revival style of architecture. It is situated just off the main highway and approached by a line of pecan trees. Visible from the highway, the J.R. Alexander House is an imposing presence on landscaped grounds. Site features including brick and flagstone walkways, stone pillars and a low stone wall spanning the front of the property along the highway are accentuated by gardens and carefully landscaped grounds surrounding the house. To the rear of the house is a two-story garage and servants' quarters in the same style as the house.

The long horizontally emphasized house features a steep hipped roof and multiple gabled roof planes covered in original tile shingles. Two hipped roof dormers are located on the north and rear (west) elevations and are also covered with tile shingles. Three tapered chimneys faced in stone, rise from the roof of the house. An interior chimney on the south gabled roof wing serves fireplaces in the living room and second-floor master bedroom. Another chimney is located at the end of a rear-facing two-story gabled bay. The third chimney extends from the gabled roof of the office wing.

Exterior walls of the house are clad in stone and measure one foot, eight inches thick. Gable end walls are covered in stucco with pseudo half-timbering made of rough cypress. According to architect John Parks Almand's son, Mr. Almand personally selected the stones to be used on the J.R. Alexander House from Pinnacle Mountain near Little Rock. It is also said that Mr. Almand dictated the placement of the stones on the exterior walls and on the mantle in the office.

The house is of frame construction with cypress joists and has two full stories of living space with full basement and a third floor billiard room and attic space. The facade, which faces east toward Highway 161 is shielded from view by lush plantings. Among the most prominent features of the exterior of the house is a steep double front-facing gable outlined with bargeboards, and pseudo half-timbering of rough cypress on stucco walls. Located at second floor level on the double front gable is an oriel window. This oriel window is surmounted by its original copper roof and contains a pair of double hung windows in the center bay with a single double-hung window on the side bays, all with multiple diamond-shaped panes of leaded glass.

The main entry to the house is centered on the first floor of the double gable. A pair of original screen doors open onto a small space covered by the second floor oriel window. Ornate double entry doors behind the screen doors feature arched leaded glass in their upper portion with small recessed wood panels in the lower one-half. A flagstone terrace with a low stone wall spans the south one-half of the facade of the house.

A shed roof porch, located to the south of the main entrance, is accessed through the entry screen doors and from interior rooms.

Originally, the porch was open, although the eight-inch square rough cypress posts and framing is original and suggest that the architect may have foreseen the need for screening. It was not until 1990 that this porch was screened during a particularly bad year for mosquitoes.

The description of window treatments on the house is indicative of the Tudor Revival style, particularly in the rich picturesque detail so prevalent to the designs of John Parks Almand in this period of his career. Bands of tall, narrow casement windows topped by transoms are found on all four elevations on both the first and second floors. The rear (west) elevation features double-hung eight-over-eight windows on the office wing and on the second story over the kitchen. A rear service porch on the west elevation, which was originally screened on the top half with wainscoting below, has been enclosed, and new six-over-six double-hung windows installed.

Projecting from the rear (west) elevation is a one-story, gabled roof wing designed for and still used as the main office of the plantation. As such, it has a separate entrance onto a flagstone terrace. Projecting from the southwest corner of the office wing is an extension of the flagstone terrace covered by a gabled roof supported by square cypress posts with triangular brace supports.

Interiors remain as originally designed by John Parks Almand. Upon entering through the main entry doors into the entrance hall is a large arched plaster beam. Plaster cornices surround the room. Floors are teak over oak sub-flooring throughout the house. To the left (south) of the entry doors in this entrance hall is an approximately eight by seven foot alcove which contains two sets of French doors. One set leads to the covered terrace on the south portion of the front, while the other set leads to the living room. French doors to the right (north) of the entry lead to the dining room. The dominant feature of the entrance hall is the grand staircase leading to the second floor. This dramatic stairway is circular in shape and features hand carved wood balusters.

The large living room measures approximately twenty-one by thirty feet. Its walls are wood wainscoting and plaster and the ceiling is plaster. An elaborate fireplace features a travertine border, ornamental stone columns and tile hearth. The back wall of the fireplace is brick laid in a herringbone pattern. French doors on the front wall of the living room open onto the front covered terrace. Another set of French doors, located to the right of the fireplace opens into a sun room. This south-facing room features three walls of windows with doors opening onto the front (east) terrace and back (west) terrace.

The dining room in the northeast corner of the house is elaborately detailed with wood paneled walls and cornices and a decorative plaster ceiling. A single swinging door from the dining room leads to the breakfast room featuring large expanses of built-in china cabinets. Double wood doors in the breakfast room originally concealed a built-in refrigerator complete with a drain designed into the floor of this space. Through the breakfast room is the kitchen which features an original 24 gauge galvanized iron hood over the range. The kitchen also contains a large pantry. A rear service porch, originally screened, has been enclosed. A rear interior stairway to the second floor is accessed from the service porch.

A long narrow rear hall spans the width of the house from the kitchen to the south wall. Stairs to a full basement are located off of this hall. Mr. Almand's design of the house included a central steam heating system and the basement was used to house the equipment. A first floor bathroom with tile flooring and wainscoting is also located off this hallway.

The southernmost room accessed from the back hall is the library. Built-in nine-foot tall bookshelves surround the room. The ceiling features decorative plaster designs. A fireplace is located on the west wall of the library. An exterior door from the library leads to a covered flagstone terrace along the south elevation of this wing of the house.

The office, or "Central Headquarters", of the plantation is accessed through a separate entrance on the covered terrace on the south elevation. A striking fireplace is highlighted by a massive horizontal stone in its design and contains an original painting by Little Rock artist Adrian Brewer above the mantel. Wood wainscoting and plaster cover the walls of the office.

The second floor of the J.R. Alexander House is dominated by a dramatic, eight foot in diameter, circular stairwell opening. The stair hall, as it is called on the original plans, contains a continuation of the circular stairway leading to the third floor. On the west wall of the stair hall, a door leads to the rear stairway on the rear service porch. The east wall of the stair hall features an original telephone niche.

Three bedrooms and two full bathrooms are located on the second floor. The master suite located on the south end of the house, features wood paneled walls and a large closet niche. A fireplace located on the south wall of the room is flanked by doors which lead to a second floor sunroom.

Part of the master suite includes the center front room containing the Oriel window. The window's multiple diamond-shaped leaded glass is a striking focus in the room. On the south wall of this room is a nine foot long built-in wardrobe behind sliding wood panels.

The other second floor bedrooms are slightly less elaborate, featuring plaster walls rather than wood panels. These bedrooms feature built-in closets and share a bathroom with original tile wainscoting and floors.

The third floor contains a wood paneled billiard room with window seating. A separate cedar-lined attic space is also located on this third level of the house.

To the rear (west) of the J. R. Alexander House is a two-story building designed by Almand in the same Tudor Revival style as the house. A steep gabled roof covered with tile shingles features two hipped roof dormers on both the east and west elevations. Gable ends are covered in stucco with pseudo-half-timbering of rough-cut cypress. This building houses a three-car garage on the first floor and servants' quarters on the second floor. A modern one-story gabled roof addition on the south end of the building houses space for two additional vehicles.

Approximately one-half mile to the east of the house and its ancillary are twenty-three outbuildings associated with the plantation. Although none of these buildings are currently used, they are all part of what was called "Central Headquarters" of the plantation during its heyday.

A. A long, three-sectioned building constructed circa 1910 was used for the machine shop, blacksmith shop, and tack room. This building is rectangular in shape with vertical board and batten exterior walls. A metal roof covers the building. Inside contents include original blacksmith equipment and various other tools. The tack room still has the names and numbers of the mules.

B. & C. Two equipment sheds constructed circa 1900 are similar in size, measuring approximately 70 ft. by 35 ft., and have metal gabled roofs with open sides. These buildings are virtually unaltered.

D. This is the site of the original Alexander plantation house. The site is currently occupied by a new residential building housing one of the last tenant farmers on the plantation.

E. The oil and lubricant shed was constructed in the late 1940s. This 14 ft. by 10ft. building is covered by a metal roof.

F. A small front-facing gabled roof building located behind the blacksmith and tack building (A) was used for storage of scrap metal and repairs of small equipment. Its exterior walls are of vertical wood plank. The building has remained basically unaltered since its construction in the early 1920s.

G. Constructed in the late 1940s, a equipment storage shed features a tall metal roof that is higher than the other equipment shed, indicative of the much larger combines and other farm equipment the plantation was using some forty years after J. R. Alexander began farming at this location.

H. A storage shed constructed circa 1929 measures 45 ft. by 25 ft. and is covered by a gabled metal roof. Its walls are vertical wood planks. The shed now contains cypress timbers cut in the late nineteenth century which were used in the construction of tenant houses on Land's End Plantation that have since been dismantled and stored in this building.

I. The pecan shed was constructed circa 1920. It is a rectangular 40 ft. by 15 ft. building with vertical board walls. Ends of the gabled roof face the front of the building and feature square windows. All windows on the building are barred and the entire inside is lined with metal web wire to keep out varmints.

J. & K. Equipment sheds dating from around 1900 are similar to sheds B and C. Supported by wooden posts, these buildings have exposed rafters, metal gabled roofs with vertical board in the gable ends.

L. The gin building was the "heart of the plantation operation". Constructed circa 1928, this 82 ft. by 44 ft. building houses a fuel-powered gin which replaced an original steam-powered one built on the same location in the nineteenth century. The gin was last operated in 1958 when Mr. Alexander is reported to have greased all the parts, then closed the doors of the building.

M. Standing perpendicular to the gin is the building that housed the seed warehouse. This building was constructed in 1927 and measures 132 ft. by 40 ft. A long "spout" that extends upward from the gin to the warehouse transported the seed to the warehouse once it was separated from the cotton. Boarded sections in the bottom of the warehouse could be opened for ventilation.

N. A hay barn, constructed circa 1930, measures 70 ft. by 30 ft. The barn is covered by a metal gabled roof and walls are of vertical wood plank.

O. Five grain storage sheds dating from the early 1920s are similar in size and appearance. Each measures 44 ft. by 14 ft. and have front-facing metal gabled roofs and walls of vertical wood plank. All five buildings have remained unaltered.

P., Q., R., S. A one-story, side-gabled single pile house is the last of the one hundred fifty tenant houses that were once found on Land's End Plantation. Of frame construction, the house has board and batten siding and a rear ell. Though the house has been modernized, it is the only remaining tenant house on the plantation. To the rear of the tenant house is a flat-roofed privy with horizontal board walls, a chicken house with a flat tin roof and original interior roost, and a feed and equipment shed with a tin gabled roof and vertical board walls. The tenant house and its three outbuildings were constructed circa 1920.

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Site Plan (1996)
Site Plan (1996)

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Main house (1996)
Main house (1996)

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Main house (1996)
Main house (1996)

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Main house (1996)
Main house (1996)

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Main house (1996)
Main house (1996)

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Main house (1996)
Main house (1996)

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Garage and servant's quarters (1996)
Garage and servant's quarters (1996)

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Garage and servant's quarters (1996)
Garage and servant's quarters (1996)

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Main house office annex (1996)
Main house office annex (1996)

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Main house (1996)
Main house (1996)

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Leaded glass entry doors (1996)
Leaded glass entry doors (1996)

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Main staircase and entry hall (1996)
Main staircase and entry hall (1996)

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Dining room (1996)
Dining room (1996)

Land's End Plantation, Scott Arkansas Dining room ceiling (1996)
Dining room ceiling (1996)