HISTORIC SITE: Houses on Park Street stood witness in 1957 to such events as a white mob beating newsman Alex Wilson of the Tri-State Defender.

Congress completed action today on a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. French Hill to add seven houses covering 1.47 acres to the area of the Central High School National Historic Site.

The measure opens the door to, but does not yet provide, federal support for help in preserving the houses as they looked when the school was desegregated with the aid of federal troops in 1957. The houses were part of the setting as TV cameras sent signals worldwide of sometimes violent clashes on Park Street in front of the school.

Backers of the site had long hoped to include the area in the historic district. There’d been some early resistance because of strings that might come with bringing property under a preservation umbrella. When introduced, it was said the bill could cost $500,000 to implement, if money is appropriated to carry out cooperative preservation projects with house owners.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis and Sen. Tom Cotton joined in supporting the legislation.

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