The Drennen-Scott Historic Site, along with a Fort Smith man and a Fort Smith monument, are finalists for Henry Awards, considered some of the most prestigious tourism industry awards in Arkansas.
Several categories of these awards are given through the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism in honor of Henri de Tonti, the man historians hail as among the first “Arkansas Travelers,” and will be revealed at the 39th Annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism, slated for March in Hot Springs.
The Drennen-Scott Historic Site, operated by the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, is vying for the Arkansas Heritage Award, presented annually to an individual, organization or community that has made a significant contribution toward the preservation of some aspect of Arkansas’s natural, cultural or aesthetic legacy. UAFS operates the site, located at 221 N. 3rd St. in Van Buren, as a museum and as a teaching classroom and lab. Other finalists are Civil War Helena and the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas.
T. Baridi Nkohheli of Fort Smith, who regularly portrays legendary U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves, is a finalist in the Outstanding Volunteer Service Award category, presented in recognition of outstanding volunteer spirit that has resulted in a substantial contribution to Arkansas’s tourism industry. Other finalists are the Arkansas Master Gardener Program of Little Rock and Donnie Crain of Jasper.
The Bass Reeves Legacy Monument in Fort Smith is competing with Great Arkansas Cleanup in Little Rock and Rohwer Relocation Center National Historic Landmark in Rohwer for the Natural State Award. This award recognizes unique appeal, media coverage, creative approach or enhancement of community pride, benefiting the state’s quality of life.
Only one finalist in each category receives a Henry trophy. The other finalists are presented a framed and matted finalist certificate.
Dr. Henry Rinne, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at UAFS, said he is extremely proud of the University’s efforts to fulfill its obligation to the people of Van Buren and the state to preserve this significant piece of Arkansas history.
“This project has always been a team effort, however, not only on campus from the Chancellor’s Office to the Business Office to the Department of History, but also the state agencies that helped fund the project, and especially the local A&P Commission for its continuous support,” said Rinne.
Tom Wing, director of the Drennen-Scott Historic Site and assistant professor of history at UAFS, was thrilled with the recognition.
“It is an honor just to be a finalist,” said Wing. “For UAFS along with other worthy nominees to be recognized as a leader in preserving and promoting Arkansas history and heritage through the Drennen-Scott Historic Site is especially rewarding. We operate a site that is significant not only to Van Buren and Western Arkansas, but also the entire state. Reaching the finals in the Henry Awards is evidence of this.”
During the Henry Awards ceremonies, inductees in to the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame and the Tourism Person of the Year will also be announced.
UAFS received several grants which covered the purchase of the Drennen home and acreage as well as funds to complete the work on the home. In all, UAFS received more than $5 million toward the project.
The home was purchased from descendants of John Drennen and Charles Scott – Caroline Bercher of Lavaca, Scott Bulloch of Van Buren and Drennen Bulloch of Little Rock. The three are fifth-generation descendants of the home's original owner, John Drennen.
John Drennen was a founder of Van Buren, politician, Indian agent, landowner and businessman. Charles Scott was Drennen's business partner who eventually became interested in seeking Drennen's eldest daughter's hand in marriage. Charles and Caroline Scott inherited control of the estate after Drennen's death in 1855.
For more information on the 39th Annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism, contact the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism at 501-682-6999 or 501-682-1088. For specific information on the Henry Awards, contact Donna Perrin or Kristine Puckett at 501-682-5240.