Although it is now a bed and breakfast, the Hornibrook Mansion, built for James H. Hornibrook, in Little Rock, Arkansas, has had a long, colorful history.
Completed in 1888, the house cost $20,000, a small fortune at the time. It was designed by Max Orlopp and Casper Kusener to be an example of the ornate Victorian architecture in the Gothic Queen Anne style. In keeping with contemporary custom, Orlopp and Kusener chose local materials to build the house.
The Arkansas mansion stands out among other homes owing to the special features included in flamboyant style. The house boasts a three and-a-half-story turret, stained glass skylight, and eight-sided rooms.
Hornibrook moved from Toronto following the Civil War. Thanks to his saloonkeeper profession, he was deemed to be socially inferior by the genteel society in Little Rock.
Hornibrook's business continued to be profitable, however, and after his competitor, Angelo Marré, completed his home, the Villa Marré, Hornibrook proceeded to build the most extravagant dwelling in the state, the Hornibrook Mansion.
While on a trip to Italy, he had a personal death mask of Italian marble designed. This may have been a portent of the future.
He died at the early age of 49, while at the front gate of his mansion, shortly after it was finished. He is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery. His widow, Margaret McCully Hornibrook, died two years later, also at the age of 49.
In 1897, the Hornibrook Mansion became the Arkansas Women's College, the state's first.
Between the Great Depression and the early 1940s, the house stood vacant and became a nursing home in 1948.
It served as a private residence with separate apartments until 1994, when it was restored to become “The Empress of Little Rock.”