Historic home in Hot Springs getting renovated after funding dropped due to COVID-19

Local News

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The push to restore a historic home in Hot Springs is now getting the boost it needs after funding dropped due to COVID-19.

People Helping Others Excel by Example was awarded a $78,251 grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. This will help the non-profit with its plan to restore the former home of John Lee Webb, a Hot Springs Black History icon.

People Helping Others Excel by Example has been working to bring the Webb home back to life since 2014.

“It was in a big mess,” P.H.O.E.B.E President Cheryl Batts said.

She knows it’s easy to see all the work that needs to be done but through the chipped paint and broken bricks, she also sees potential.

 “The house has a lot of intricate details that the newer houses don’t have,” Batts said.

It’s not just about the home’s outward beauty but who lived inside the walls. John Lee Webb moved there in the 1920s and dedicated his life to making the community better.

“He brought life and vitality and finances to a segregated neighborhood,” Batts said.

To tell his story, the non-profit plans to dedicate the bottom floor to Webb’s history.

“Pictures of this community, Mr. Webb, his family, and all of the things that happened during the heyday of this house,” Batts said.

The top floor will be used as a community center to teach leadership skills to underprivileged kids.

“Try to instill in them all of the things we know work to get a job and make yourself a viable part of the community,” Batts said.

Now, with a little more cash in their pockets after an almost $80,000 grant, Batts said they are that much closer to unlocking the doors and continuing Webb’s legacy.

“It’s going to get us to a place where we’re going to look at the house and not the bills,” Batts said.

The non-profit will also get another $60,000 from a Hot Springs Community Development Block Grant.

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