Powhatan Methodist Church

The Powhatan Methodist Church is one of the historic buildings found at Powhatan State Park. The church exemplifies the nineteenth-century Greek Revival architectural style in which it was built.

Records indicate that the Powhatan Methodist Church was formed in 1858 with a 284-member congregation under the direction of four local pastors. Members included white settlers, probationers, and African-American residents. Before the church building was constructed, church members in Powhatan (Lawrence County) may have gathered at the Black River for worship services.

Around 1874, building plans for the Powhatan Methodist Church included one double-door entrance at the front and windows placed on each side of the building. The interior of the church has a large sanctuary with two cloak rooms that were installed in the mid-twentieth century on each side of the entrance foyer. Over time, the cloak rooms would be utilized for Sunday school services and activities. Along with the natural light from the windows, the building is lit with two bronze chandeliers that held oil-burning lanterns until electricity was wired throughout the sanctuary around 1940. A bell for commencing worship services was a final addition to the church and resides on the building’s east side.

The Powhatan United Methodist Church had previously been called the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. However, due to changes that took place in the Arkansas Methodist Church organization, the church decided to change its name. In the late 1970s to early 1980s, some restoration was required, as the building was leaning to one side. Despite some minor changes, restoration efforts managed to keep the building’s appearance generally the same as it was when first constructed in 1874.

The building was owned by a Methodist Church administration in Little Rock (Pulaski County) until 2016, when the owners sold the building to Arkansas State Parks, partially due to its need for restoration. The Department of Parks and Tourism began assembling funding for its restoration, and by the summer of 2022, the project was complete.

The Powhatan Methodist Church greatly served the congregation and community from its time of construction. Weddings, conferences, funerals, and worship services took place in this building until 2016. The church, which was added to the Powhatan State Park due to its religious contribution that complements the historic roots of the town, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 23, 1977.

For additional information:
Anderson, Mary Ann, and Ken Story. “Powhatan Methodist Church.” National Register of Historic Places registration form, 1977. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/LW0024.nr.pdf (accessed November 2, 2017).

Jade Kitchel
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program


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