For 12 years, I thought I lived in Stifft Station. Now a new mural says Stifft’s. What gives?
You still live in Stifft Station, by decree of J.N. Heiskell, editor of the Arkansas Gazette from 1902 to 1972, and for some people in the Arkansas Times office, that’s the word of God. More secular authorities, namely the “Digest of the City of Little Rock” (published 1915) and Bernie Babcock’s “Yesterday and Today in Arkansas: A Folio of Rare and Interesting Pictures” (published 1917), say you live in Stifft’s Addition. You also live in the Stifft Station Historic District, according to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, which refers to the addition as both Stifft Addition and Stifft’s Addition and the station as Stifft.
But your neighbors seem to favor Stifft. The neighborhood group calls itself the Capitol View Stifft Station Neighborhood Association. And Google Trends, the tool that tracks and compares the popularity of search engine queries, suggests that “Stifft Station” has been used far more frequently in recent years than “Stifft’s Station” for whatever that’s worth.
What is certain is that the neighborhood — the National Historic District, that is, the area “in the wooded hills west of the Arkansas State Capitol,” bounded by West Markham, West Seventh, Woodrow Street and Martin Streets — is named for Charles S. Stifft, who in 1898 with other investors platted one of the eight additions included in the historic district. (Oldtimers will remember Stifft’s Jewelry Store on Main Street. Stifft was also involved in a number of other businesses, including real estate, savings and loans and the Arkansas Diamond Mining Co.) Rosetta Street was named for Stifft’s daughter, Rosetta Stifft Blass, according to a Blass’ grandson, Gilbert Blass Cohen.
The “Station” refers to the streetcar stop at Markham and Prospect Avenue (now Kavanaugh Boulevard). Though the city digest called the area Stifft’s Addition, businesses were already adopting the Stifft Station name by 1929, according to that year’s city directory. (Stifft Station Gifts and Stone’s Throw Brewing Stifft Station Taproom are located at the intersection now.)
A plaque set into the wall of The Meteor bike shop and coffee bar at the corner of Markham and Kavanaugh commemorates the site as “Stifft’s Station, Original site of the Street Car & Trolley Stop, C.S. Stifft’s Addition to the City of Little Rock, November 18, 1897.” The plaque has three errors — date, addition name and station name — if the AHPP nomination of the district to the historic register is correct (though it swings both ways on the addition name).
Back to the mural. It was recently painted by Little Rock artist Matt McLeod on the wall of the 1931 Allen building at Johnson and Markham streets (where Stone’s Throw has opened a taproom) to replace an older mural that said: “Welcome to Stifft Station.” It is not in error, depending on your point of view, but may influence future Stifft (Stifft’s) Addition/Station/Historic District parlance to go with the possessive.
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