School Days Revisited In Rogers Museum’s 1895 Hawkins House

School Days Revisited In Rogers Museum’s 1895 Hawkins House

As you drive up South Second Street in downtown Rogers — rerouted, perhaps, by road work — look to your left in the 300 block and imagine the bustle of back-to-school preparations in the turn-of-the-20th-century brick Hawkins House. Inside, a Rogers Historical Museum exhibit invites you to step back in time and take a themed tour that answers questions about what what clothes students would have worn, what they might have taken for lunch and what subjects they would have studied.

Rachel Smith, RHM assistant director and curator of collections, answered these five questions about the “Back to School” exhibit for What’s Up!

Q. Let’s talk a little first about the Hawkins House. Can you share the history of the house and the Hawkins family and how it came to be part of RHM?

A. The Hawkins House was built in 1895 on the corner of Second and Cherry streets in Rogers. In 1900, the house was sold to Francis Cunningham Hawkins, who moved to Rogers to open a livery and stock business on South First Street. He and his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children, Frank and Lizzie, occupied the five-room brick house. Over the next 79 years, three generations of the Hawkins family lived in the house.

In 1980, the city of Rogers acquired the Hawkins House, with a generous donation from the Harold Hawkins family, and in 1982 it became home to the Rogers Historical Museum. The Key Wing was built adjoining the house in 1987, and these buildings constituted the Rogers Historical Museum until the expanded museum galleries opened in the historic Hailey Ford building in 2018.

In 1994 and 1995, the Hawkins House received an extensive interior and exterior renovation in honor of its 100th birthday. A Victorian-style porch was reconstructed, structural repairs and improvements were made, and reproduction furnishings were installed to bring the home back to the year 1900. Today, the historic house offers visitors to the Rogers Historical Museum a faithful portrayal of middle-class life in small-town America during the first decade of the 20th century.

Q. Is the “Back to School” exhibit a new one for the Hawkins House? What inspired it?

A. The museum offers special themed tours on various topics each year, which highlight different aspects of early 20th century life through the lens of the historic home. Previous tours have focused on wedding celebrations, mourning customs and funerals, spring cleaning rituals, and the popular annual holiday tours.

The “Back to School” exhibit is a new theme for the Hawkins House inspired by considering the common experiences of many Rogers citizens. We all have our own memories of our time in school, but it may be hard to imagine what school was like in 1900. This tour explores the different opportunities that area schools offered for students to learn, play and spend time away from home.

Q. As curator of collections, do you just know what you have to go with a particular theme? How do you set about to support an idea with artifacts?

A. As the curator, I don’t always know what will go into a particular theme or exhibit until I start researching. Exploring our collections and diving into research always reveals new ideas and information that I hadn’t considered. My research involved reading old class catalogs from the Rogers Academy, flipping through a 1914 yearbook from Rogers High School, and researching the history of public school education in Arkansas.

Q. What are some of the fun artifacts you chose to support the back to school theme?

A. When deciding what to include in an exhibit, I consider what ideas I want to talk about and which artifacts will best illustrate that idea to the visitors. What’s better than an actual report card from a school in Rogers to show what kinds of subjects students studied in 1900, or a graduation dress worn in Rogers in 1912? Other interesting artifacts include a metal pail for carrying lunch to school, and photos of both boys’ and girls’ sports teams from the early 1900s.



‘Back To School’

WHEN — 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, through Oct. 29

WHERE — The Hawkins House at the Rogers Historical Museum in downtown Rogers

COST — Free

INFO — 621-1154 or

FYI — No reservations for tours are needed.



Creation Station

In conjunction with the “Civil War in Benton County: Untold Stories” exhibit, make a Victorian era thaumatrope from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Rogers Historical Museum. The activity is free.

Categories: Family Friendly