AMP Plus People Tourism

AMP Video: The Villa Marre is on the market

See the inside of the fabled house of the Sugarbaker sisters as Tony Curtis takes AMP on a two-hour tour. (But the video is only two minutes and four seconds long.)

*In his ad-lib and highly entertaining tour of Villa Marre, Mr. Curtis mentioned one house and called it Mr. Watkins’ house, what he meant to say was the house of James Clark.

By Jay Grelen, AMP managing editor

The for-sale sign isn’t even out front of the Villa Marre, and already Realtor Tony Curtis has three serious lookers, who will have to fork over some serious cash to buy it.

Mr. Curtis is listing the house, built in 1881 by Angelo Marre (pronounced “marie”), at just $50,000 shy of a million.

The fate of the house, of course, lies with the one who buys. One looker envisions the House of the Designing Women as an events center, which is how the current owner uses it. Another wants to live in it. Mr. Curtis has only a vague notion of the third looker’s plans.

Mr. Curtis recently took AMP on two-hour tour of the place, from the basement where the help once lived to the top, which, for now, is mostly living quarters or office space.

The man who built the house owned a saloon in Memphis and moved to Little Rock under a cloud, says Mr. Curtis, who doesn’t know the nature of the trouble the Marre family left behind. For years, the family lived in a house one street over from Scott Street. In an effort to improve their standing in Little Rock society, Angelo and Jennie bought the lot at 1321 Scott and built the house with a face destined to star in a television sit-com.

To quote from the Villa Marre website: “It was built in the Second Empire architectural style that also boasts Italianate influences. The main feature of the home, the mansard roof, is both eye-catching and breathtaking and is adorned with multi-colored rectangular slates that are intertwined, creating a decorative fish-scale motif.”

That’s a fancy way of saying it was a pretty fancy place. Was and is.

The Marres’ move to Scott Street apparently achieved their goal. Angelo was elected an alderman and was president of Edison Electric, according to several sources that document such things.

The house, which is in the Quapaw Quarter, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

If lore is accurate, and the Marres moved to Little Rock from Memphis under a shadow and breaking into Little Rock society was tough, in the end, the Marres won.

“It’s taken 140 years,” Mr. Curtis said, “but she outlived them all. Her house is the most recognizable house, really, in the city.”

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