Over 700 visitors toured the movie homestead used in the filming of "A Painted House" last Friday and Saturday during Lepanto's Terrapin Derby celebration.
The fact that the house is not completed did not seem to deter spectators from wanting to take a look. More wallpaper will be added, hardwood will replace the sub-flooring, and cosmetic touches are planned to authenticate all the rooms.
Luke Chandler's room, the primary room used in the movie, has been papered with the same vintage wallpaper used in the movie. Lepanto Area Citizens for Progress paid $800 for the paper, so the room could be authentic in every detail. The room has bunk beds spread with old quilts, a desk and bookshelf. The original drapes for the room were donated by Hallmark Hall of Fame, which produced the movie.
The kitchen was near completion and consisted of a large family table, covered with oil cloth, an old fashioned wood stove, cupboards, dish cabinets, and mismatched chairs. One side table was set up with bags of flour, a rolling pin, and cookie cutters. Mary Harris, of Lepanto, could not resist the urge to use the rolling pin, and move the flour around, as she had done many times throughout her lifetime making biscuits for her family. On the stove sat a large pan full of baked sweet potatoes, still warm to the touch.
The living room was also near completion with a green couch, side chairs, an antique radio, side tables, and a stove sitting in front of a fireplace.
The two rooms not used in filming the movie were used for displays. Authentic costumes worn by the actors during the filming were attached to the walls. Painted House tee shirts were on sale in the front bedroom, which also housed memorabilia enclosed in a glass showcase.
Visitors were encouraged to sign the guest book in the living room. A large punch bowl was placed on the table for donations to be used by the LACFP committee to complete work on the house and grounds. Over $3,000 was received in donations and tee shirt sales.
The Spruill family tent was set up on the lawn, adjacent to the house, and was completely furnished with props from the movie. Antique trucks and farm equipment belonging to collectors Melton Emery and Jerald Burns were parked out front and also driven in the Terrapin Derby parade down Main Street.
Spectators were seen sitting in the dark, on the steps of the house, after it closed at 7 p.m. Saturday night hoping that it would open again.
LACFP volunteers have worked hard for many months to get the house returned to Lepanto, rebuild it and get it restored and furnished. LACFP members have donated hundreds of dollars of their own money toward the project, not to mention countless hours of labor. They have a vision of what the house can mean to the area for tourism and are determined to see it through to completion.
Lepanto Mayor Dale Dunlap and his wife Marie attended the Arkansas Delta Byways banquet in Forrest City last week and accepted a plaque, on behalf of the LACFP, given in the promotional award category. Nancy Clark and Rodney Rouse made the plaque presentation.
Arkansas Delta Byways promotes travel and tourism in Eastern Arkansas. Two major routes link the 15 counties included in this region: Crowley's Ridge Parkway (a national scenic byway), and The Great River Road-Arkansas (part of a 10-state route extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico).
The Arkansas Delta Byways tourism promotion association includes Arkansas, Chicot, Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Desha, Drew, Greene, Lee, Mississippi, Monroe, Phillips, Poinsett, and St. Francis Counties.