LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - At the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in Little Rock, there is a remarkable collection of photographs. Some of the pictures date back more than 50 years, bringing to light things forgotten from downtown Little Rock.
"It is probably the single best source that documents the development of downtown Little Rock during that time period," explained Brian Robertson, the manuscripts coordinator at the Butler Center, knows of the collection's value.
The pictures were taken by Clifton Eugene Hull and the story behind the collection as remarkable as the pictures themselves.
"Every day on his lunch hour he would get up, take his camera, jump in his truck, drive around in downtown Little Rock and what he was doing was he was going around and taking photographs," said Robertson. "He just kind of documenting everything that was going on."
Hull spent most of his career at the Army Corps of Engineers. A co-worker of his back in the 70s was Bob Price.
"That was back when you could say a lunch hour was a lunch hour because the last 20 years or so it was only 30 minutes," Price recalled.
Price oftentimes joined him on these excursions. It was a hobby, with no money, and it may have started from just the simple need to stretch the legs.
"I don't know if you've ever been in the federal building but (you need to) just get out of that cubby hole, (it's a) rat race," said Price.
Twenty years of lunch hours and Hull got really good, as Robertson is quick to point out.
"Not only is it a historical source," he explained. "But it's artistic as well and it's just a real joy to look at."
Before his death in 2011, Hull donated his entire collection to the Butler Center, including more than 2,000 historical masterpieces. This did not surprise his former co-worker.
"That's Gene's generosity and it would have been a real shame if these photos had been lost forever," Price said.
And Price stresses they weren't just photos.
"That's the real service Gene Hull did. He knew what was important and he wanted to share the information of what was going on back then."