We Live Here: Warwick and Jessica Sabin of Capitol View / Stifft Station

Most of the residents in the Capitol View/Stifft Station neighborhood probably think it is the best-kept secret in Little Rock, which should be surprising, considering it sits in a prime location in the middle of the city.

But the charms of the area remain unappreciated by so many precisely because they are usually motoring along the busy arteries that constitute its boundaries: Markham, Woodrow, Pine or I-630. A quick turn off from all of that traffic would immediately reveal quiet residential streets, many of which defy the rigid perpendicular city grid because they preceded it. In that part of the neighborhood, one road curves gracefully into another and into another, until a newcomer has lost all sense of what direction he might be going.

The homes are modest, almost without exception. The prevailing style is Craftsman bungalow, since most of the neighborhood was developed in the early part of the last century. And they are close to one another, so it is impossible not to know your neighbors.

That may be why the sense of community here is so strong. On any given block, there are residents who have been living in the same house for over 50 years, and those who may have just moved in. But everyone is friendly and helpful, and they are proud of the unique character and attributes of the neighborhood.

Of course there are the local haunts that reflect the unpretentious, comfortable and hospitable nature of Capitol View/Stifft Station: the Oyster Bar and Whitewater Tavern, to name the two prime examples. Until recently, Buice Drug Store doubled as a pharmacy and a place for trading local gossip under the ownership of George Wimberly, the former state representative and mayor of Little Rock. The pharmacy was shuttered after Mr. Wimberly passed away last year, but the iconic Buice Drugs sign is still a landmark on Markham, and the role of neighborhood dean has been accorded (by quiet acclamation) to George Jett, proprietor of Jett’s Gas and Service Station, a fixture for many decades one block west.

There has been some new commercial development, too. The old Little Rock Paint & Wallpaper building (our city’s version of New York’s famous Flatiron building, standing confidently in the joint of the Markham-Kavanaugh split) is now home to Spokes, a high-end bicycle shop, and Unity Martial Arts. But there will always be a limit to how much business can come to Capitol View/Stifft Station. Its designation as a historic district will likely preserve many of the residential buildings that occupy most of the main thoroughfares. And the existing storefronts are small and don’t allow for much parking.

But that’s probably just as well, as far as most of us are concerned. In fact, we have told you too much already. Have you heard about all of the great things happening in Hillcrest these days?

Jessica & Warwick’s Capitol View Top 10

1. The Oyster Bar (3003 W. Markham St.). On the first big snowfall each year that inhibits vehicular traffic, we bundle up and trudge through the empty streets to admire the natural beauty and wind our way to the Oyster Bar for a warm meal.

2. View of the Arkansas River (Corner of Park and Riverview). The river view is spectacular!

3. Grounds of the Arkansas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired and Arkansas School for the Deaf (2600 W. Markham St.). The hilly lawn is a favorite place to walk dogs, throw a frisbee or go sledding.

4. White Water Tavern (2500 W. 7th St.). Another neighborhood institution that just keeps getting better year after year. Great music and great food and no pretension whatsoever.

5. Jett’s Gas and Service Station (3101 W. Markham St.). Mr. Jett will fix a flat, fill your tank, adjust your alignment and tell you what is really happening in the neighborhood.

6. Lamar Porter Field and Billy Mitchell Boys & Girls Club (3200 W. Seventh St.). This historic ballpark is celebrating its 77th year, making it the oldest actively-used baseball stadium in the state.

7. Rose Creek. A proposed trail along this lovely creek would connect to the Arkansas River Trail and other landmarks.

8. Spokes (1001 Kavanaugh Blvd.). The friendly people at this high-end bicycle store will tell you everything about recreational and racing equipment.

9. Woodruff Community Garden (Seventh and Brown Streets). This garden has helped to bring the community together as neighbors share the fruits of their labor and literally get their hands dirty working side-by-side.

10. Arkansas State Capitol (500 Woodlane Drive). The center of our state government is a regal building that is the focal point of the neighborhood.

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