Shady Grove Delmar Church and School

The Shady Grove Delmar Church and School is a historic building located near Delmar (Carroll County). The church is about three miles southeast of Osage (Carroll County). Constructed around 1880, the building housed a school until 1945, and a church regularly met in the building until 1969. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 27, 2015.

The first settlers in the Osage Valley arrived around 1830. The population grew slowly, and by 1889, Osage included four homes, three stores, and the school. The land on which the church was constructed was donated to the district by Thomas Sisco, the son of an early settler. Sisco owned several businesses in Delmar, including a post office, sawmill, grist mill, and general store. The details of the early congregations that met at the church are not known. The land was deeded by the family to the Carroll County School District Number 26 in 1923. It ceased operations in 1945. In the twenty-first century, the area is served by the Alpena School District. The church last held services in 1969 when the Reverend J. E. Stanphill preached on September 14.

The church rests on a continuous stone foundation and is topped with a front-facing gabled roof with asphalt shingles. The foundation is made from natural stones; cement was added over the years, and large cornerstones are located at each corner. An interesting feature of the building is a hexagonal bell tower located at the front of the building. Covered in fish-scale shingles, it was topped with original wooden shakes at the time of nomination to the National Register. A south-facing entrance is provided by a centrally located set of double wood doors.

The east and west sides of the building are similar in construction with four four-over-four windows on each side. The west side windows are covered with wood, but the original windows remain underneath. The interior of the building includes a single room. A low raised stage is located on the north end of the building, with a cabinet and chimney flue. Two rows of pews are located in the building, with original pews located on the west and pews added in the 1950s from a church in Alpena (Carroll and Boone counties) on the east side. Details of the bell are not known, but local lore suggests that it originated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was likely added to the building around 1900.

Minimal alternations have been made to the church. The most significant alternation is the addition of beams and shims to support the roof after a tree fell on the building in the early 1980s.

A cemetery is located behind the building. With early marked graves dating to 1896, the cemetery continues to be operated by the Shady Grove Cemetery Committee. The church is located in an isolated area and is accessible by a gravel road.

While no longer in operation, the building serves as an example of early dual-purpose community buildings in northern Arkansas.

For additional information:
Aday, Fleta. “Delmar School.” Carroll County Historical Quarterly 53 (December 2008): 33–35.

“Shady Grove Delmar Church and School.” National Register for Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Office, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/CR1137_nr.pdf (accessed February 21, 2020).

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated: 02/21/2020