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Early Schools Were Segregated,
Offered Classes Only Through
the Eighth Grade
The first white school in Rison was a crude building in the woods where the Baptist Church is now located. J.L. Blackerby was the first schoolmaster. Until recent times all schools were segregated.
The first black school, the Rison Colored School, was located near Lanwood. T.W. Rogers and his wife, Cynthia, were two of the early teachers in the black school. He had academic training at Branch Normal College in Pine Bluff, now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Most of the schools offered basic curriculum consiting of reading, arithmetic, writing, spelling, language and geography.
Usually the eighth grade was the highest level offered until more schools were consolidated and had more resources available to them. Grades were added until the 12th year became the standard for high school graduation.
The first hotel in Rison was the Harrison, operated by Jesse Harrison who had been at Toledo. It was located on First Street opposite the railroad depot. Later it became the Orton Hotel.
The City Hotel on Main Street was first operated by John White and later by Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Ray, and after the Rays by Dr. and Mrs. Hughes. In 1913, Dr. T. H. Ackerman who had acquired the City Hotel moved the old building to the rear of the lot and erected a new brick building in its place. Originally it was named the Ackerman Hotel. Later the name was changed to the Phoenix as it has remained since that time.
Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Whayne were the first operators of the Phoenix and ran it until she died in 1915. In later years the Phoenix ceased operation as a hotel and became a restaurant only, which eventually closed. The Phoenix is now occupied by
a florist and is being remodeled by its owner, Danny Powell, into a bed and breakfast unit.
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