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We actively participate in causes that align with our values in the communities we serve.
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Our commitment to quality design and creativity is evidenced by the hundreds of design awards we have received since our company’s inception 135 years ago. We are passionate about sharing our knowledge to make a positive impact on the community.
A strong commitment to design and sustainable building practices steers Cromwell through a second century of continuous practice. Discover the origins of our firm, including where we’ve been and where we’re heading.
Benjamin J. Barlett moved to Little Rock in 1885 and began what is known today as Cromwell. He designed the first building for the Arkansas School for the Blind. The school got a lot of attention for its mixture of Italianate and Queen Anne styles. Soon after, Charles L. Thompson moved to Little Rock and began working for Bartlett as a draftsman. Thompson considered Little Rock the “farthest in the wilderness” at the time. In 1886 Bartlett and Thompson formed a partnership and the firm became known as Bartlett & Thompson.
Bartlett left the firm in 1890. Thompson decided to join forces with Fred J.H. Rickon, a city engineer. Together, the two formed the first architecture, engineering, and design partnership. Shortly after, Thomas Harding Sr., then just a teenager, began working for Charles Thompson.
The firm designed and built hundreds of residential, commercial, and government projects during 1897 – 1916, later considered Thompson’s most productive years. During this time, the firm designed Carnall Hall at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville, the YMCA building, now known as the Arkansas Democrat Gazette building, the Donaghey Building in downtown Little Rock, and constructed the Little Rock City Hall which was one of the capital city’s most impressive public buildings when it was constructed.
The firm designed one of the first gas stations in Arkansas during the 1920s. In 1925, Thomas Harding Sr. left the partnership to begin a solo practice. After the exit of Harding and Thompson’s advancing age, it was decided to merge offices with Frank Ginocchio and Theodore Sanders. Ginocchio had briefly worked for Thompson in 1905. The early years of this new, joint firm were severely affected by the Great Depression, and the firm survived mainly on commissions for the design of residences, including remodels and additions.
At almost 70 years old, Thompson retired after 52 years of active practice. Thompson continued with his community service by serving as president of the Chamber of Commerce where he played a key role in the creation of the Lake Maumelle reservoir. 137 of his projects are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sanders withdrew from the partnership leaving the firm to the Ginocchio. Edwin Cromwell, Charles Thompson’s son-in-law, was invited into the partnership to succeed Sanders. With the U.S. plunged into world conflict, Ginocchio and Cromwell became highly involved in military projects such as Camp Robinson. In 1942, John Truemper, the future president of Cromwell, graduated from high school and began working for the firm at age 18. Later in this decade, with the end of World War II, many private projects were let and the firm began working with the Little Rock Junior College (now known as University of Arkansas at Little Rock).
Ginocchio and Cromwell designed the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, which opened in 1950. Ben Dees, Oliver Gatchell, and William Woodsmall were added to the firm’s staff, which represented the transition to becoming a full-service, multi-discipline design firm. Several years of design work also began for Winthrop Rockefeller at Winrock Farm on Petit Jean Mountain. In 1959, the firm designed the Arkansas Arts Center.
The firm began its foray into the fields of healthcare and research facilities with the development of the Human Development Center (formerly known as the Arkansas Children’s Colony) in Conway, Arkansas. Additional campuses were later master planned, designed, and built in Arkadelphia, Jonesboro (1970) and Warren (1975).
Eugene P. Levy, who at the time was Ed Cromwell’s son-in-law, joined the firm in 1962. He would later become CEO. The firm completed the Staff Housing and Consul General’s Residence in Madras, India. This marked the first overseas project for the firm. The firm also designed the Little Rock Regional Airport in 1967.
The firm established the Interiors Department during the 1970s. In 1975, the firm designed its new “home”, One Spring Street, in downtown Little Rock, just down the street from where Rickon and Thompson originally set up shop in 1891. This same year, the firm completed innovative work at the Mississippi County Community College using a solar design with photovoltaic cells.
The firm expanded its practice nationwide and overseas through work with the Department of Defense and medical development clients. The firm also helped to renovate the small luxury hotel, Capital Hotel, and it opened for the second time (first opening in 1877). The Capital Hotel soon became the centerpiece of a larger plan to create a convention center, parking deck, and public plaza linking to the Arkansas State House, Camelot Hotel (now Doubletree Hotel), the renovated Robinson Auditorium, and former Arkansas Bar Association Center. Ed Cromwell also imagined a riverfront park connecting the convention center district to a revitalized East Markham Street. These ideas were eventually realized in the Julius Breckling Riverfront Park and the River Market.
In 1985, the firm celebrated 100 years of continuous practice. John Truemper published “A Century of Service 1885 – 1985” to commemorate the occasion. Ed Levy, the grandson Ed Cromwell, and son of Gene Levy, joined the firm, sparking four generations of family legacy with the organization.
“One Spring Building” was officially renamed the “Cromwell Building” in honor of Edwin Cromwell. The firm began using e-mail, the internet, and launched the company’s website.
In 1996, the firm began their first project at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
The firm’s name officially became Cromwell Architects Engineers during this decade. The Cromwell firm designed the UAMS Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute, the Leflar Law School at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville, and the UA Innovation Center, the first LEED building in Arkansas.
Cromwell opened its first international office in Germany and added Facility Management as a service for clients. In 2018, the firm moved its headquarters to The Paint Factory in Little Rock’s East Village. The building project was the flagship revitalization project of East Village, an area in which the firm is currently working to redevelop and revitalize.