The Top 6 Stops on the "President Clinton's Little Rock" Self-Guided Tour
You may not know a lot about Little Rock, but chances are you’ve at least heard of our most famous former resident: President Bill Clinton. From his days as a lawyer, Arkansas’s governor, United States president, and is his years post-presidency, he left an indelible mark on the city. Explore the self-guided "President Clinton's Little Rock" tour in full to see the sites that shaped him and, in turn, shaped America.
Running short on time? That's alright – we've got the tour's top six stops right here!
The presidential library of Bill Clinton resides within the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park. The 30-acre campus includes the Clinton Presidential Library, the Clinton Foundation offices, the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and the full-service restaurant. The library features exhibits that chronicle Bill Clinton's presidency, focusing on expanding civil rights to people worldwide. Exhibits also include exact replicas of the Oval Office and Cabinet Room. For a fantastic view of the library and downtown Little Rock, venture out onto the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge spanning the Arkansas River, and, if you’re feeling hungry, have a meal at in-house restaurant 42 bar & table.
Bill Clinton announced his bid for the presidency here in 1991, and delivered his acceptance speeches on its grounds in 1992 and 1996, making it an iconic Little Rock locale to viewers around the world. The Old State House served as Arkansas's capitol and is the oldest standing state capitol building west of the Mississippi River. It's home to a museum that chronicles Arkansas history from 1836 to the present.
Clinton/Gore Campaign Headquarters
112 West 3rd Street
What most locals now know as an elementary school was once home to the bustling offices of the Clinton/Gore campaign headquarters. The building formerly housed the state's oldest business, the Arkansas Gazette, until the newspaper merged with the Arkansas Democrat in 1991. Known as the "oldest newspaper west of the Mississippi River," the Gazette had been an Arkansas institution since 1819.
Built between 1947 and 1950, the Arkansas Governor's Mansion occupies the original site of the historic Arkansas School for the Blind. The design for the mansion is a latter-day version of the Colonial Revival style, chosen to complement the Greek Revival architecture of the Old State House, located 17 blocks north of the mansion at the head of Center Street. President Clinton and his family lived in the mansion during his first term as governor from 1979 until 1981 and then again from 1983 until 1992 when he was elected President of the United States. Be sure to notice a bronze bust of President Clinton just inside the front gate. The mansion served as Suzanne Sugarbaker’s home in the 1980s hit television series Designing Women.
In the fall of 1957, Little Rock became the symbol of state resistance to school desegregation. Arkansas Governor Orval E. Faubus directly questioned the sanctity of the federal court system and the authority of the United States Supreme Court's desegregation ruling while nine Black high school students sought an education at the all-white Little Rock Central High School. When President Dwight D. Eisenhower was compelled by white mob violence to use federal troops to ensure the rights of Black children to attend the previously all-white school, he became the first president since the post-Civil War Reconstruction period to use federal troops in support of civil rights.
In 1998, President Bill Clinton signed legislation that made the school a National Historic Site to "preserve, protect, and interpret for the benefit, education, and inspiration of present and future generations…its role in the integration of public schools and the development of the civil rights movement in the United States."
Bill Clinton served as Arkansas governor here from 1979-81 and 1983-92. The Arkansas State Capitol, modeled after the United States Capitol, was built between 1899 and 1915 in an imposing Neo-classical style. Constructed primarily of limestone quarried in Batesville, Arkansas and some Indiana Bedford Limestone, the interior was finished in marble from Vermont, Colorado, and Alabama. The top of the dome is 230 feet above the surrounding ground, and the lantern roof is covered in 18-karat gold leaf. Details include six solid bronze doors purchased from Tiffany's of New York. The Capitol grounds feature a civil rights memorial dedicated to the Little Rock Nine.