Rooted in the Past

Lake Village native Elizabeth Michael combines family tradition, a touch of modern edge and a little Delta soul to make her historic downtown Little Rock house a home
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Elizabeth and Dan spend the majority of time in their library, where they’re surrounded by all of their favorite things. The couple calls their style “eclectic,” and it’s perfectly on display in this vintage-meets-modern juxtaposition.

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When Elizabeth Michael tells you that her parents met while haggling over a taxidermied peacock, it starts to become clear that antiquing—thrifting, junking, salvaging, saving—is in her blood.

Elizabeth sets a custom cypress table made from a sunken Mississippi River log with vintage china, one of her favorite things to collect—she estimates she has about 230 place settings.
Elizabeth sets a custom cypress table made from a sunken Mississippi River log with vintage china, one of her favorite things to collect—she estimates she has about 230 place settings.

Add to that story the fact her parents just so happen to be the same Michaels behind Paul Michael Company, the legendary home furnishings store in Lake Village (and the fact that she’s been scouring antique fairs alongside them for decades), and you’ll start to see why, when you look around the historic home that Elizabeth Michael shares with her husband, Dan Roda, it feels like they’ve been roosting there for decades.

But they haven’t. In fact, it’s been just shy of a year since the couple purchased the W. E. Hemingway House, (circa 1893) in downtown Little Rock’s Governor’s Mansion Historic District. In the nearly 12 months that the couple has owned the house—all wood-paneled walls, soaring ceilings and tiled fireplaces—they’ve managed to fill every shelf, every corner, every mantelpiece with treasures: Antique stringed instruments. Tables made from sunken Mississippi River logs. Vintage globes. A piece of the old bridge that once connected Lake Village to Greenville, Mississippi. In other words, by filling it with bits of themselves, with items that evoke Dan’s love of music, Elizabeth’s fondness for travel, and their love of the Delta, they’ve made short work of making the Queen Anne house a home.

The library’s bookshelves provide ample space for displaying the couple’s well-loved collections, including globes, books, travel photos and meaningful flea-market finds.
The library’s bookshelves provide ample space for displaying the couple’s well-loved collections, including globes, books, travel photos and meaningful flea-market finds.

Even crossing the threshold for the first time this past year, they felt “it.” Perhaps it was the way the house reminded Elizabeth of her upbringing, with its preservation of all things one-of-a-kind and antique. Maybe it was how the turn-of-the-20th-century architecture, the 13-foot ceilings, and the old, creaky floors reminded Dan of the New Orleans neighborhood he lived in during college. But mainly, it must have been the way it fulfilled everything on their “must-have” list: a downtown location, plenty of room to entertain,AL_Hemingway_Home-13a a great outdoor space, a mother-in-law cottage, an opportunity to own a little bit of history. It was meant to be, they felt—a feeling that was confirmed when they found out the house was added to the National Historic Register the day that Dan was born.

“I thought, ‘OK, it’s meant to be,’” says Dan. “I’m a real estate guy [he’s partner and in-house counsel at Rock Capital Group], so I’m big into the physical history of the city, and the fact that we get to be stewards of that? That’s pretty cool.”
A recent renovation and a fresh coat of creamy white paint on the walls meant the house was a blank canvas for the couple. Elizabeth and Dan knew how to tackle the décor: Just fill it up with things that have significance—things that you love.

“My parents’ house is also very eclectic,” Elizabeth says. “In Lake Village, there’s not much to do, or places to go for that matter, so they’ve always entertained at home, and it’s always been a priority to have home be your sanctuary. There was never a piece put in my parents’ house that didn’t have meaning.”

“We just kind of collect cool, weird little things,” Dan adds. “Anywhere I’ve ever lived before this they just sat had to sit in a box.”

“You do know that at some point we’re going to have to stop collecting things,” says Elizabeth.

Dan shakes his head: “No. More bookshelves.”

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A beautiful outdoor entertaining space was at the top of the couple’s list; this home’s backyard, which had been designed by P. Allen Smith, fit the bill. Here, a ring of adirondack chairs crafted from Delta-harvested cypress surround a firepit.