Donaghey Building

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City/Town:
Location Class:
Year Built: 1925 - 1926 | Year Abandoned: 2008
Historic Designation: National Register of Historic Places (2012)
Status: EndangeredFor Sale
Photojournalist: Michael SchwarzEddy SissonGrant King

It seems like the idea of skyscrapers downtown is always a good idea. There is lots of room for commercial spaces, it adds to the city skyline and can make for a great view when you go to the top floors. With the Donaghey Building, it was no different, but sadly, it now sits completely empty and is currently for sale.

Little Rock’s First Skyscraper

Plans to build this 14 story structure turned into a reality in 1925 as construction started on the newest addition to the Downtown area. It was designed by the New York City architect, Hunter McDonnell. By the time of its completion in 1926, this U-shaped was the tallest building in all of Little Rock and held that title for 3 decades. Looking to the facade of this structure, the reinforced concrete artwork on the corners along with the detailed craftsmanship along the sides of the building makes for a beautiful centerpiece in the district. This building housed a variety of commercial offices and retail spaces on the ground floor. It featured the latest advances in lighting, ventilation, and fire-resistant construction.

George Washington Donaghey (1856–1937)

George Washington Donaghey became a legend in Arkansas and is a widely used name in building names, street names and districts in the Central part of the state. Donaghey was the twenty-second governor of Arkansas and built a legacy through his countless efforts and support of learning by creating a state board of education. Additionally, his work as governor sparked referendum amendments to the Arkansas Constitution, a state board of health with the power to regulate sanitation and inspect food and drugs, prison and tax reform, and the completion of a new state capitol building.

Closing

By the mid to late 1990s, the Donaghuey was still in full swing with workout facilities, snack bars, law offices, apartment spaces and many other businesses. Even though the tenants weren’t having issues, the building owners were having some major maintenance issues behind the scenes. With it being such a historic building, costs to keep things in order; such as the elevator, plumbing and electric wiring, were becoming an issue. A major renovation was needed to modernize the building and get it up to code. Originally, the plan seemed simple, the new owners started by releasing the top 3 floor tenants from their spaces and proceeded to gut them to their bones. The goal was to keep the building in operation while renovation would trickle down through the entire structure. However, that became difficult with the noise level and mess it was creating. It quickly became too much and then it was decided to close the entire building in 2008 and renovate everything at once. Shortly after the closing, the money ran out and the building was put on the market.

Sitting Empty

Remnants from the last tenants can still be seen. The snack bar/smoothie shops equipment and signage, the doors with Law Office logos and papers and records from the church office can tell the story of what the final days must have looked like. We even found a series of “Donaghey Building” business cards on the 5th floor. The layouts on each floor seemed to change periodically as we moved our way up to each floor. The top 3 floors are still mostly gutted and full of pigeon droppings due to a few open windows. It is sad to see Little Rock’s first Skyscraper sitting in this state, but I am confident and hopeful that a developer will see the potential in this property and a new breath of life will be seen in the near future.

Want to buy a skyscraper?

Newmark Moses Tucker Partners is marketing the nearly 100-year-old building for a current price tag of $8,000,000.
Investment Highlights

    1. Main Street provides an eclectic mix of restaurants, museums, theaters, music venues, retail shops and cultural attractions.
    2. Ideally situated in the thriving Downtown Little Rock market.

Gallery Below




From Loopnet.com
The Donaghey Building is ideally situated in the thriving Downtown Little Rock market, the perfect midpoint between the River Market district, the Central Business District and the burgeoning South Main neighborhood. Main Street provides an eclectic mix of restaurants, museums, theaters, music venues, retail shops and cultural attractions. The renovation of the streetscape and development of substantial parking have made this area both easily accessible and inviting to residents and tourists. The Donaghey Plaza parking deck, multiple city parking decks and many other convenient parking options contribute to the attractiveness of building. These factors combine to provide strong demand for The Donaghey Building to be added to the growing downtown Little Rock commercial and residential market.
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Jerri DeLamar
Jerri DeLamar
1 month ago

As a Little girl, my mother and I would always take my grandmother to her doctor in this building. There was an elevator man in the elevator to take us to the correct floor. Then we would eat at Frankie’s Cafeteria.

Jami Bonnette Caldwell
Jami Bonnette Caldwell
1 month ago

This article & these pictures are simply outstanding! Obviously wishing for someone to lovingly reno the building but so appreciate the talent & historical story-telling done here via pictures. Thank you!

Rebecca Ouellette
Rebecca Ouellette
1 month ago

A beautiful building.
Does anyone have photos of the lobby & elevator doors? I recall they were Art Deco

India Cheairs
India Cheairs
1 month ago

My Dad’s office was in the Donaghey building until Baptist (located where Children’s Hospital is, now) made him an offer he couldn’t resist, free office space for several years plus free parking for his patients. The other doctors said people will never drive that far west to go to the doctor. They did, though.

Angie Chandler Haley
Angie Chandler Haley
1 month ago

Please, please somebody. Who can afford it rescue this beautiful building. I remember in 40’s and 50’s being in awe! Going up to 14th floor to look out over the city!
It hurts my heart to think this building would be destroyed! 🥲🥲🥲

Tom Wilkins
Tom Wilkins
1 month ago

my father worked there – a jeweler for L&L Jewelers on the 10th floor. Loved playing on the elevators !

Natalie Fraser
Natalie Fraser
1 month ago

I use to have breakfast there 50 times a year with my dad

Sherry Noblett
Sherry Noblett
1 month ago

Worked on the 11th floor for many years. They built a new (awful) building and moved us into it. Miss that old building.

Judie Shepherd Burney
Judie Shepherd Burney
1 month ago

when there with my mom “many times” to the “baby” doctor…old Dr Watson, delivered me, my younger siblings & several nieces & nephews…only one I ever heard of that his nurse was always at the hospital for deliveries. Think her name was Clara.

Frank Bubba Shumard
Frank Bubba Shumard
1 month ago

Had a great Coffee shop. My Mom worked there for Hinnagin, Croft and Cotham

Sylvia Haley Lott
Sylvia Haley Lott
1 month ago

My family’s opthomoligist Dr. Watkins was there and the optical shop across the street. Also, Caves Jewelry was on the ground floor. I even worked security in the building in the 80’s – spooky at night.

Mike Reed
Mike Reed
1 month ago

Use to the busiest building in town Dr s office everything even a barber shop cafe shoe shin guy use to amaze me how he could shine them shoes lol

Lynda Sullivan Purdom
Lynda Sullivan Purdom
1 month ago

I know family dentist (Dr Wilson there) and ENT and
Pediatrician and family dr. buzzer
And I think eye doc too.
Catch bus block from home, get off front of building –
See the doc and reverse

Larry Loveless
Larry Loveless
1 month ago

Imogene Williams was our Dentist and she was a practicing lawyer, In the same little office in that building. She was an amazing woman.

Christine Nichols
Christine Nichols
1 month ago

My dentist was in The Donaghey Buliding. There was a coffee shop on the first floor. I remember the halls smelled like a dentist’s office, so there must have been more than one. lol!

David Sewell
David Sewell
1 month ago

Oh man! My first career job was on the 7th floor. As an underwriter for the Travelers. The coffee shop on the ground floor was a daily visit. So many memories there. The week of the Texas game in LR (I think it was Texas) I looked out of the window behind my desk loomed the Goodyear blimp.

Keath North
Keath North
1 month ago

My first sales job was with the Tom Baxley Insurance Agency in that building (Minnesota Mutual). Worked with Sigma Nu brother, Max Hooper.

Tammy White Thomas
Tammy White Thomas
1 month ago

Very cool seeing this on the inside. I worked in that building back in 83 to 88 and have worked in the new building across the street since 2001. It was a great building!!

Gordon Apple
Gordon Apple
1 month ago

One of the reasons I moved back to Arkansas was a project that was going to fund my company using tax credits using an Arkansas law set up for that purpose. There were five separate projects under an umbrella company, one project of which was to renovate the Donaghey Building. Arkansas DF and A killed the whole thing, so none of it happened.

Lance Lanehart
Lance Lanehart
1 month ago

I spent a lot of time in this building. Mainly the freight elevator. It had an old old school up/down lever. No buttons. Ralph was the maintenance man, Cush was the craftsman and Dennis was the painter on retainer. Dennis took me fishing in the Ar river once. Early 80’s.

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