Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church

The Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church building at 1601 S. Louisiana Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), known historically as the Winfield Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was designed in 1921 by the architectural firm of Thompson and Harding. This Gothic Revival–style church was built in stages from 1921 to 1926. The Winfield Methodist Church building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 22, 1982.

The building is significant because one of its designers, Charles Thompson, was among the most influential and prolific architects in Arkansas history. It is also significant because of its red brick and terra cotta exterior elements. The nomination forms for the National Register describe the church’s red brick cladding, terra cotta ornamentation, and cream mortar as having an informal quality. The building’s Gothic Revival elements reflect the more elaborate style of the older houses that populate the surrounding neighborhood. The Craftsman-inspired educational wing pays homage to what would have been a more fashionable style in the 1920s.

The nave has four bays flanked by articulated buttresses that surround the gable-end entrance facing Louisiana Street. A tower rises at the northeastern corner of the building, intersecting a two-story transept that houses the two-story education wing.

The congregation constructed its first building, a one-room wood-frame structure, at 12th and Spring streets in 1871. The congregation changed its name to the Spring Street Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1885, the congregation purchased land at 15th and Center streets and began the process of building a new church building. They again changed the name of the organization, to the 15th & Center Streets United Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1889, after four years of construction, the congregation opened its new church. The same year, they changed their name to the Winfield Memorial United Methodist Church, South, in honor of the congregation’s former pastor, the Reverend Augustus R. Winfield.

In 1910, the congregation consulted Charles Thompson about expanding its building. Thompson felt that improvements to the existing structure would not be enough for the congregation’s needs and convinced the building committee to begin searching for land to build a new church. In 1920, the congregation purchased the current site at 1601 S. Louisiana St. from Frederick Hotze, who owned the first and second Hotze House adjacent to the church site.

The 15th and Center streets building was sold to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. On February 27, 1921, the Winfield Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South held its last services at the old location. The congregation met in what was then the building that served as Little Rock High School (later known as Eastside Lofts). The first service in the new building on Louisiana St. was held on June 27, 1926. The total cost of construction was $300,000.

The Winfield Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South was remodeled in the 1950s, including the addition of air-conditioning and an elevator. Stained-glass windows were installed in the north and south sanctuary elevations.

Following changes in Methodist denominations in 1968, the church changed its name once again, to Winfield United Methodist Church. In the 1960s, the congregation began to lose membership due to population shifts toward the city’s western suburbs. In 1985, real estate developer Elbert L. Fausett bequeathed $479,000 to the church on the condition that the congregation move west of University Avenue. In 1987, the majority of the congregation voted to move, and they built a new church on Cantrell Road.

A small portion of the Winfield congregation stayed behind at the Louisiana St. location, becoming the Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church. By the late 1980s, the area that encompasses the historic districts surrounding MacArthur Park and the Governor’s Mansion areas were collectively known as the Quapaw Quarter. The choice of that moniker returned the congregation to its earlier tradition of naming its church after a geographic location.

In 2018, the Quapaw Quarter United Methodist congregation voted to sell the building, citing a declining membership and increased costs of maintaining the 44,000-square-foot structure.

For additional information:
Silva, R. “Sandwiching in History: Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church.” Department of Arkansas Heritage, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, September 9, 2011. http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/_literature_133966/Sandwiching_in_History_-_September_9 (accessed September 17, 2019).

“Winfield Methodist Church.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/PU1024.nr.pdf (accessed September 17, 2019).

Shelle Stormoe
Quapaw Quarter Association


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