Clinton Presidential Library

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library

Where is it?

The Clinton Presidential Library is located at 1200 President Clinton Avenue in Little Rock, Arkansas.

In addition to the library, the site features:

  • Clinton Presidential Park – 30-acre city park
  • Anne Frank Installation – outdoor exhibit featuring a history of human rights issues
  • William E. “Bill” Clark Presidential Park Wetlands – restored wetlands with a boardwalk
  • Clinton Presidential Park Bridge – 1899 steel truss bridge spanning the Arkansas River as part of the 14-mile Arkansas River Trail
  • Choctaw Station, Sturgis Hall – 1899 restored railroad station that houses the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and the Clinton Foundation offices

The library’s website can be accessed here.

A glimpse of downtown Little Rock from Clinton Presidential Park

What is it?

Presidential libraries are part museum and part archives. In 1955, Congress passed the Presidential Libraries Act which, through establishment of the libraries, preserves documents and artifacts pertaining to our presidents. The 15 current presidential libraries are overseen by a division of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Hope, Arkansas

Our visit to the Clinton Library actually began 112 miles southwest of Little Rock with a stop at Bill Clinton’s birthplace in the small town of Hope, Arkansas. Hope is not only famous for being President Clinton’s hometown, but it is also the hometown of former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee. Huckabee ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2008 and 2016. Actress Melinda Dillon of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “A Christmas Story” fame is from Hope too. Hope’s next biggest claim to fame is that it is the watermelon capital of Arkansas. We think that’s a pretty decent resume for a town with less than 8,800 residents.

President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site

“In this house I learned to walk and talk. I learned to pray, I learned to read, and I learned to count by number cards my grandparents tacked on the kitchen window.” ~President Clinton, Dedication Speech at the Birthplace House in 1999.

Bill Clinton’s birthplace home

Bill Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe, III, in 1946, just three months after his father’s death in an automobile accident. He and his mother, Virginia, lived in the home with her parents until Bill was four years old. The house, which is available for ranger-guided tours, represents a typical 1940s era home.

In 1950, Virginia married Roger Clinton, Sr. who owned an auto dealership in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The couple eventually divorced but remarried shortly thereafter. Bill had adopted Roger’s last name at a young age, however, when he was fifteen years old, he formally changed his last name to Clinton out of respect for his mother’s second marriage to Roger.

Link to the website: Clinton Birthplace

The Clinton Presidential Library

Oval Office replica

One of the library’s most popular exhibits is a full-scale replica of President Clinton’s Oval Office. A replica of the historic Resolute Desk, which was given to President Rutherford B. Hayes by Queen Victoria in 1880, is the centerpiece of the exhibit. The items on the desk actually sat on President Clinton’s desk in the White House Oval Office.

The Cabinet Room

Another of the library’s permanent exhibits, the Cabinet Room, is a replica of the meeting room where cabinet members as well as presidential advisors make decisions that affect our country.

Timeline exhibit

Features of the library include a timeline covering the highlights of Clinton’s presidency, as well as exhibits and documents regarding domestic and foreign policy, artifacts depicting life in the White House, and thousands of other items. In all, the collection includes over 100,000 objects and artworks. Additionally, the library’s archives include: 78 million pages of official records, 20 million emails, 2 million photographs, and 12,500 videotapes.

This photo shows a foreign policy display as well as one of the many cherry wood cabinets that are seen throughout the library and house over 4,500 boxes of documents and records.

Although we enjoyed all of the museum exhibits, our favorite was the extensive collection of gifts that were given to Bill and Hillary Clinton during his presidency. Perhaps the most notable object in the collection, though, is the 10-foot-tall Dale Chihuly blown glass sculpture, titled “Crystal Tree of Light”. Chihuly created the sculpture for the White House Millennium Celebration in 1999.

Crystal Tree of Light

Clinton Presidential Park

While we enjoyed the Clinton Presidential Library, we absolutely loved the park surrounding it. The grounds, which abut the Arkansas River, feature paths for walking and biking. Some paths, such as the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, connect to the 14.2-mile Arkansas River Trail as well.

The Clinton Presidential Park Bridge was originally a railroad bridge that dates to 1899. Renovations to convert the bridge to a pedestrian and cyclist pathway were completed in 2011.

Additionally, the William E. “Bill” Clark Presidential Park Wetlands provides a peaceful place to walk, learn, and reflect. The 13-acre green space preserves a variety of plants and serves as a riparian wildlife habitat.

William E. “Bill” Clark Presidential Park Wetlands

Thanks so much for joining us at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library! We are closing the post with a view of the Arkansas River.

Trivia: The McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System originates at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, Oklahoma and runs 445 miles through Oklahoma and Arkansas to the Mississippi River. While the primary waterway is the Arkansas River, the navigation system also utilizes the Verdigris River in Oklahoma, the White River in Arkansas and the Arkansas Post Canal. The Tulsa Port of Catoosa is the farthest inland port in the United States, but remarkably, it isn’t the only port in Oklahoma. The city of Muskogee also has a port on the Arkansas River.

While you’re here, check out these other exciting road trip destinations:

Strawbery Banke Museum and Portsmouth, New Hampshire

National Route 66 Museum

Annapolis, Maryland and the United States Naval Academy


Travel safely, and we will see you on the road!

Mike and Kellye


As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.






Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

Where is it?

Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site is located at 2120 W Daisy L Gatson Bates Drive in Little Rock, Arkansas. The park features:

  • Museum and visitor center
  • Restored Mobil gas station
  • The school and grounds
  • Ranger led walks
  • Tours may be available on select days or by special arrangement with the park – all tours and ranger led walks require advance reservations

Website link: Little Rock Central High School

Little Rock Central High School still operates as a public high school today with a student population of about 2,500.

Why is Little Rock Central High School important?

Little Rock Central High School is one of the most significant sites of the civil rights movement in the U.S. In 1957, the school became a battleground, so to speak, in the fight between the State of Arkansas and the U.S. government over federally mandated desegregation of public schools. Additionally, whites wanted continued segregation, and blacks wanted educational equality and to attend their own neighborhood schools. The Alabama governor went against the Supreme Court’s decision to allow black students to attend previously all-white schools. A group of African American teenagers was, unfortunately, caught in the middle of the battle.

What happened?

Arkansas Governor, Orville Faubus, held a televised news conference on September 2, 1957, to inform Little Rock citizens that caravans of white supremacists were on their way to stop the integration of black students into Central High School. Faubus stated that he ordered the Arkansas National Guard to surround the school due to the potential for “blood in the streets”. He was never able to provide evidence to prove those statements. Meanwhile, the Little Rock school board advised that no African American students try to enter Central High or any white school until the dilemma was “legally resolved”.

All eyes are on Arkansas

On September 4, 1957, nine African American students attempted to enter the school surrounded by a group of ministers as escorts. National Guardsmen blocked the ministers and students stating that under orders from Governor Faubus the students could not enter. Meanwhile, mobs of whites hurled derogatory comments, waved Confederate flags, and even spat on the black students. Governor Faubus claimed later in the month that the National Guard was called out only to prevent violence and not to prevent integration.

Fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Eckford attempts to enter Little Rock Central High School alone. She was then chased off of the campus by hostile whites.

Excerpt from the national park website of a black newspaperman’s observation:

“The mob of twisted whites, galvanized into vengeful action by the inaction of the heroic state militia, was not willing that the young school girl should get off so easily. Elizabeth Eckford had walked into the wolf’s lair, and now that they felt she was fair game, the drooling wolves took off after their prey. The hate mongers, who look exactly like other, normal white men and women, took off down the street after the girl.” – Buddy Lonesome, St. Louis Argus

Sad scene at Little Rock Central High School

While the world watched

Federal District Judge Ronald Davis denied a petition by the Little Rock School Board to delay integration into Central High School. The judge ordered integration to begin on Monday, September 9. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Also on September 9, President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which was the first civil rights legislation since 1875. On September 24, President Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard which took them out of Governor Faubus’ control. Stating that “mob rule cannot be allowed to override the decisions of our courts”, Eisenhower then sent federal troops to Little Rock to surround the school. The next day, September 25, nine African American students entered the school escorted by members of the 101st Airborne Infantry Division. About 750 of the 2,000 students at Central High School were absent that day.

False advertising perhaps? Governor Faubus closed all Little Rock high schools in order to avoid integration.

The aftermath

Racial tensions continued throughout the remainder of the school year with the issue of desegregation still an extremely hot topic. In September of 1958, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Little Rock would continue with its desegregation plan. Therefore, the school board determined that the high schools would open on September 15. Overriding the school board’s decision, Governor Faubus ordered all Little Rock high schools closed pending a public vote on integration. Voters chose not to integrate, and the schools remained closed for the entire 1958-1959 school year.

The National Historic Site today

This Mobil gas station sits across the street from the school

Why would a gas station be part of a national park site? This station had a pay phone, and it was the closest pay phone to the events taking place at Little Rock Central High School. Members of the media gathered here to take turns calling in stories to their news desks.

This sculpture, “United”, by artist Clay Enoch is located in a garden near the east entrance of Little Rock Central High School. It was dedicated in 2017 on the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of the school by the Little Rock Nine.

The museum takes visitors through a timeline of events leading up to the integration of Central High School.

Today benches commemorating each of the Little Rock Nine can be found near the reflecting pool in front of the school. Statues of them also grace the grounds of the state capitol building. Every one of the nine students graduated from college. Some even went on to earn post graduate degrees, and some have written books about their experiences. Click here to view their impressive biographies. As for us, we are inspired by the way these determined people handled such abhorrent adversity. And now we are honored to know their story.

Thank you for joining us on our visit to Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site!

Need some road trip inspiration? Check out these great destinations:

Things to do in San Antonio: River Walk

Things to do in Sedona, Arizona

Eisenhower National Historic Site

Strawbery Banke Museum and Portsmouth, New Hampshire


Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye


As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.