- Associated Press - Monday, December 22, 2014

FOUKE, Ark. (AP) - What started off as a community project idea more than three years ago has turned into a dream come true for Fouke residents.

Throughout a recent sunny, cool, late fall afternoon, hundreds of Fouke-area residents enjoyed streaming through the two-story vintage Scoggins House as the city’s Citizens For a Better Community group held an open house dedication for this near-century-old home.

The local tourists spent time walking up and down the home’s sun-bathed pine-wood stairways as they explored the home’s nine historically refurbished rooms and two baths while soaking up views of early 20th century furniture, the Texarkana Gazette (http://bit.ly/1sEuYzw ) reported.

The downstairs rooms included a parlor, dining room, kitchen and library (already containing perhaps more than 200 books), while the upstairs quarters consisted of two bedrooms_one converted into a bride’s room, the other a groom’s room. A third upstairs bedroom is now a reading room, and a fourth is an office. The largest upstairs room is now a fully computerized education center.

“The people here in Fouke are so willing to do anything to make things better,” said Roxie Coker, a local resident. “I’m proud of my community.”

The historic domicile is now on the cusp of a new life as a public library, education center and social event center. Local residents will be able to hold musical programs, bridal showers and baby showers, as well as conduct genealogy research, local historical research, budgeting, book review presentations, seminars and parenting and various other workshops in the building.

The education center, known as the Vera and Lawrence Huff Education Center, is named in honor of two local educators. Last year, the late couple’s daughter, Mary Elizabeth Huff Haile, who now lives in Urbana, Illinois, donated $50,000 to the historic home’s restoration.

The center also received grants from an anonymous donor, the Jerry Roberson estate and the Texarkana Area Community Foundation.

Fouke’s Citizens For a Better Community Inc. started renovation work on the home in July 2011 after this nonprofit community volunteer civic organization bought the house for $45,000 when the most recent occupants were faced with foreclosure.

The Scoggins home, about a block north of U.S. Highway 71 behind Fouke City Hall, was originally modeled after a house from a Sears and Roebuck catalog.

The idea to convert the house into a library, education center and social center originated after Citizens For a Better Community asked Fouke residents about projects they would like to see the community take on. One of those included building a public library, said Ann Fowler, the organization’s executive director.

The library has electronic and traditional books available and is still accepting book donations to continue building its collection.

George Washington Scoggins and his wife, Clara, built the home shortly after moving to Fouke in about 1910_roughly 10 years after they married.

Judy Fraizer, board member for the volunteer civic organization, said the group’s next plans include restoring the home’s carriage house into a wedding reception hall.

“I think this is a wonderful thing for a community to bring together, and it provides a great service for everyone to have,” Miller County Justice of the Peace Haze Hudson said.

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Information from: Texarkana Gazette, http://www.texarkanagazette.com

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