School no longer in operation
Built in 1895 in the Romanesque Revival style, this school was named for Frederick W. Kramer, the first president of the LRSD Board of Directors (elected in 1869). The school was built on the site of the old Sherman School. Kramer gained national attention as the site of the Center for Early Development and Education established by Dr. Bettye Caldwell, Professor of Education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The center, often referred to as "The Kramer Project," opened in 1969. As Rockefeller Elementary was in the planning stages to replace the Parham School, which was in the way of construction of the new Interstate 630, the decision was made to close Kramer as well and move the center to the new school. Kramer closed in 1978.
The building lay vacant and deteriorating for a number of years until a $3.5 million renovation saved it from the wrecking ball. Dedicated in 1997, the building now provides artists' lofts and exhibit space. The Kramer School renovation project was an instant success and has become an icon for preservation efforts in Arkansas. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Note the missing bell tower from the early image to the modern-day photo. The tower became unstable in the early 1950s and was removed. According to the building renovation team, plans to restore the bell tower during the building's overall restoration in the late 1990s were abandoned due to the prohibitive cost. The bell tower evidently had been bothersome to the school district for the first half of the 20th century: a newspaper article from about 1904 stated that the Kramer tower was in need of immediate repairs. J.R. Rightsell was quick to respond that it had been examined and deemed to be safe.
Frederick Kramer was president of the Masonic Mutual Relief Association and Grand Treasurer of all Masonic bodies. He served as the first president of the Little Rock School Board. During some difficult times he loaned money to the district so that teachers could be paid and construction projects could be completed.
"From 52 pupils in 1853 to over 20,000." Arkansas Democrat article by Marion Fulk, 1 Nov 1981.
Kramer School Artists' Lofts Project web page
The Downtown Partnership web site
The Vanadis Group web site; Kramer School page
R.L. Polk & Company's 1893 Little Rock City Directory
Correspondence with Todd Rice and Lornea Wells of The Vanadis Group.
"Kramer School tower" newspaper article (source unknown), found in file of J.R. Rightsell's documents; dated ca. 1904.
"Pupils are not in danger" newspaper article (source unknown), found in file of J.R. Rightsell's documents; dated ca. 1904.If you have information about a Little Rock school or photographs that you would like to contribute to this project (we will return photographs if requested), please contact us!
Updated March 2005