Date Original



This collection contains one final grant report related to the Alex Foundation project, Master Builders: African American Architecture on Lakeport Plantation final report, funded in part by the Curtis H. Sykes Memorial Grant.

Biographical/Historical Note

The annals of history, oftentimes, have documented African Americans’ contributions during slavery as field hands and agricultural laborers. These accounts, records, and descriptions chronicled about slaves have not always painted an accurate picture of the impacts they made during that time. Whether properly credited or cited, there were numerous roles that African Americans assumed during slavery. In Arkansas, like many states, slaves were skilled in countless professions, which were self-taught God-given talents. Such is the case in Lake Village, a city in Chicot County, where African Americans worked as slaves to maintain the property and build the land beyond toiling it. They were skilled craftspersons. They contributed to the structures where they lived with their families and where their slave owners lived. From Lakeport Plantation we learn of “Those Who Labored.” From this published work, we are informed that Lakeport Plantation was physically created through the labor of enslaved laborers brought into Arkansas specifically for this purpose. A complicated bill of sale recorded in Chicot County in 1832 which, in addition to describing land purchased, the names of approximately 24 slaves purchased by Joel Johnson in the same transaction were documented. Of these 24 individuals, there were three who were distinguished from the others because of their skills. They were: Bill, a Brick mason, Thomas, a Carpenter, and Louis, a Blacksmith. Slave duties were many and varied and at times, supervised. Many slaves spent their lives devoted to difficult manual labor associated with the various demands of the agriculture. Others, like those mentioned above, were skilled craftspersons, who were often hired out to others because of the demand for their specialized abilities. The Alex Foundation's project, Masterbuilders: African American Architecture on Lakeport Plantation proposes to engage rising 7th grade students in the Southeast Arkansas Delta with architecture, design and the built environment. Youth will be introduced to the "big house" built by slaves. Students will be presented with the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program’s historical architectural styles to further extend their learning. The students will have a weeklong daily schedule of activities that will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. They will tour Lakeport Plantation’s big house to get a realistic visual and concept of the building’s materials, patterns, age, design, and its vernacular architectural style, form and structure; and the relationship to each other and to the landscape of the area. The outcomes: Students will learn how to sketch Lakeport Plantation's big house, design a model of the big house and build a model structure. They will learn about historic preservation, architectural styles, forms and structures. They will learn about the history of Lakeport Plantation and those that labored. They will gain an appreciation and understanding for architecture, design and the built environment. They will meet an African American architect, and for most, the first time meeting an architect and an African American architect. Additional outcomes: 98% of all participants will increase their knowledge Master Builders: African American Architecture on Lakeport Plantation final grant report ... - Page 5 - of architecture, design and the built environment. 98% of all participants will acquire an understanding of Arkansas African American architecture on Lakeport Plantation. Participants will also learn about the interior design elements of a building and they will tour a local interior design store in Lake Village. Additionally, a film and discussion will be presented to the students by renowned architect, Kwendeche of Little Rock. The film entitled Citizen Architect is a documentary that celebrates the legacy of architect Samuel Mockbee’s and the design-build Rural Studio he cofounded to provide sustainable shelter for those who cannot afford it; to demystify modern architecture and to expose architecture students to extreme poverty in their own backyard. This project relates to the mission and goals of the Curtis H. Sykes Memorial Grant Program in that it provide works on the history of black Arkansans from the earliest times through architecture and design; it encourages historical work and research on the background of black Arkansans who labor through their craftsmanship; it addresses the performance of work in relation to the history of black Arkansans on Lakeport Plantation; through our project, we will make available our program and project on the history and heritage of African Americans architecture, design and built environment presentation through that of an Arkansas African American renowned architect, Kwendeche.

Physical Description

Document, 8.5" x 11"

Geographical Area






Resource Type



Master Builders: African American Architecture on Lakeport Plantation final grant report, BHC.005.005


Arkansas State Archives

Contributing Entity

Arkansas State Archives

Recommended Citation

Master Builders: African American Architecture on Lakeport Plantation final grant report, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.


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United States History