from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program Sandwiching in History Tour Series, June 3, 2016
Dr. Clarence W. Koch House (the Castle on Stagecoach)
By Rachel Silva
Dr. Clarence W. Koch House
Completed about 1935, the Castle House, as most people call it, was designed by Little Rock architect Ed Brueggeman for Dr. Clarence W. Koch and his wife, Marie. Clarence and Marie Koch didn’t live here very long. They sold the house in 1941 as the result of a divorce. The house was occupied by a handful of families between 1941 and 1963, when it was purchased by John and Eugenie Rognrud. The Rognrud family has owned the house for 53 years. It now serves as a private residence, wedding and event venue.
Present-day Stagecoach Road runs along the route of the Southwest Trail as it came through Little Rock. The Southwest Trail was a network of overland routes stretching from the St. Louis area of Missouri to the Red River Valley of northeast Texas and northwest Louisiana. First traveled around 1760, the Southwest Trail entered Arkansas in northeastern Randolph County and ran diagonally across the state, skirting the foothills of the Ozark Plateau and the Ouachita Mountains, and came out at several crossings of the Red River in southwest Arkansas. The Southwest Trail was later known as the Military Road after the U.S. Congress appropriated funds for its improvement in the 1820s and 1830s. The Army resurveyed the route and cleared a better path so that it could be used as a wagon road and mail route. Stagecoach Road follows the old Military Road from the junction of the Upper Hot Springs Highway (now called Colonel Glenn) in a southwesterly direction toward the Saline County line, where it becomes Highway 5 and, in Benton, the Military Road. Stagecoach Road has at various times been called the Southwest Trail, the Military Road, Fourche Pike, 19th Street Pike, the Hot Springs Highway and the Benton Highway.
According to the abstract of title for the Koch House, the first record of this property dates from March 1834 and shows it as part of a 40-acre tract sold by the United States Land Office to Archibald McHenry. Archibald McHenry was one of the earliest white settlers in this area. He owned more than 1,400 acres between his landholdings here and across the Arkansas River at Crystal Hill. His property in this area was located southwest of the intersection of present-day Stagecoach Road and David O. Dodd Road. About 1830, McHenry’s sons, John and Henry, built the brick, Federal-style house that still stands at 6915 Stagecoach Road. The home is commonly called the Ten Mile House, as it was located 10 miles from downtown Little Rock, as well as the Stagecoach House.
David O. Dodd
After Union forces had occupied Little Rock in September 1863, the Ten Mile House was used as a Union outpost on the southwestern edge of the city. In December 1863, David O. Dodd was stopped near the Ten Mile House by Union troops. Because his notebook contained a Morse code message about the strength and position of Union troops, all evidence pointed to the fact that he was a Confederate spy. Dodd was detained overnight in the smokehouse at the Ten Mile House before being transported to Little Rock, where he stood trial and was hanged on January 8, 1864. David O. Dodd Elementary School, which opened in 1924 in an earlier structure (current school built in 1959 with a 1974 addition), and David O. Dodd Road were so named to commemorate him.
Current Use of The Castle on Stagecoach
Members of the Rognrud family still reside at The Castle on Stagecoach. In 2011, John and Eugenie’s son, Walter Rognrud and business partner Kevin Blazer started a wedding and event venue business. Kevin also owns Little Rock Carriage Company and has operated services for the last 15 years. They currently book weddings, parties and other events at the Castle on Stagecoach, and they offer brunch one Sunday each month, usually the third Sunday, and a monthly Princess Tea Party. Brunch includes a carriage ride from your vehicle to the house, champagne, mimosas, buffet-style brunch, music and more.