LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Looking back into history, what is now the Willie Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center, that runs along the 12th Street Corridor, used to be the Robert E. Lee School.
The school building closed in 1971. In 2005, it was reconstructed as a community center with a new name.
Rev William Robinson has a long history in the community. He’s the executive director of Better Community Development. It’s a non-profit that improves the quality of life for low-income and underserved communities.
“In order to build a better communities we decided we wanted to build a center,” Robinson said.
Robinson says some of his work happens out of the Willie Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center.
Little Rock created the center in 2005 naming it after former city director Willie Hinton.
“He was a very community person. He did a great job in keeping the community together and spreading ideas through the community.”
Almost a hundred years before the change, the building built in 1906 was owned by the Little Rock School District. It was called the Robert E. Lee School. It closed in the 70s and sat vacant for a long time before it was repurposed.
Darryl Swinton the Director of Housing and Economic Development for BCD says having the city-owned facility has helped bring empowerment to the community.
“Remodeling the school making it use for the community to have a place to come,” Swinton said.
“It was extremely helpful to the community. A lot of positive things happened out of that building,” Robinson said.
The city took over ownership of the building in 1997. Hinton worked from ‘97 to 2005 to get it up and running again.