Arkansas December 28, 2018
This Historic Tavern Is Older Than The State Of Arkansas Itself
Arkansas is so fortunate to have numerous structures of pre-Civil War history. One of the most well-preserved pieces of history is the William Looney Tavern. The building is so old it even has more years than the state of Arkansas. Let’s take a tour of this incredibly old tavern.
The gorgeous Eleven Point River has been attracting folks for centuries.
You may have taken a float trip or stayed at one of the shore-side cabins. The peacefulness of the river certainly isn't a new discovery, however.
One of the earliest settlers was a man named William Looney. He was quite a notable figure during Arkansas' early development.
Shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the Looney family established a farmstead along the banks of the Eleven Point River. During the first meeting held for the Arkansas territorial legislature at the Arkansas Post, Looney was elected to be one of the counselors on the committee. Looney served as justice of the peace, captain of the local militia, and the financier as well. Looney died as one of the richest men in the nation, part of that being due to his tavern.
In addition to his farmstead, Looney also built this tavern.
The tavern was constructed in 1833, three years before Arkansas would become the 25th state admitted to the Union. It's unclear whether the dogtrot building served as just a tavern or an inn as well, but it did hold Looney's distillery. The distillery produced 1,500 gallons of apple brandy whiskey every year until Looney's death in 1846.
Another historic building in the area is the Rice-Upshaw House, Looney's neighbor.
Reuben Rice’s house even predates the tavern since it was constructed in 1828. The house is still standing just on the other side of the river from Looney's farmstead.
Today both structures are on the National Register of Historic Places and can be toured.
Both places were donated to the Black River Technical College for education and restorations. The college's REACH program (Researching Early Arkansas Cultural Heritage) is primarily intended for student field trips but the program does occasionally have public tours as well. For more information, as well as contact information about upcoming tours, visit
Have you seen these historic buildings before? Share with us in the comments below.
Another fascinating place to visit is
Arkansas’ oldest church.