You are here

River Market and Museum of Discovery

-A A +A
1990s–present. 400–500 President Clinton Ave.
  • (Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, A Division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, Ralph Wilcox, photographer)

In the early 1980s, Little Rock city planners and private consultants met to devise a downtown development plan centered on the Arkansas River and E. Markham Street (now President Clinton Avenue). The projected uses of the then-blighted area of former warehouses and manufacturing buildings that once served the river and an adjacent railroad included their conversion to residential, cultural, and commercial use, and landscaping and walkways along the river’s bank. Development began in the 1990s, and the completion of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library (PU12), which anchors the eastern edge of this linear renewal project, added to the vitality of the transformation. The district takes its name from the 1996 Ottenheimer Market Hall (AMR Architects), an indoor market with a forty-foot-high vaulted roof and an adjacent outdoor space for seasonal activities. Incorporated into it was the former W. W. Dickinson Hardware Company building (1893, Fred Rickon and Charles L. Thompson), which now accommodates office space, a meeting hall, and commercial functions. The Museum of Discovery (1998, 2012, AMR Architects) occupies the former Terminal Warehouse Building (1926, Mann and Stern; 500 President Clinton Avenue), a massive building, fifteen bays wide, four stories tall, with an eight-story tower. A few light touches of Venetian Gothic ornamentation enliven the building’s exterior walls.

On the river side of the buildings is River-front Park, which has been developed with green space, winding paths, a belvedere pavilion, a twelve-hundred seat amphitheater, and a promenade lined with sculpture. The park is a component in the approximately seventeen-mile long Arkansas River Trail. Junction Bridge, constructed in 1884 by the Choctaw and Memphis Railroad, is a seventeen-foot-wide, Warren through truss, lift-span structure across the Arkansas River to North Little Rock. The bridge closed for railroad use in 1985 and was renovated in 2008 as a pedestrian and bicycle walkway.

Writing Credits

Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors


What's Nearby


Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors, "River Market and Museum of Discovery", [Little Rock, Arkansas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Arkansas

Buildings of Arkansas, Cyrus A. Sutherland and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018, 124-124.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.