In 1891, the board of trustees of Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) recommended, in part to help provide for an educated clergy, a plan to build affiliated academies. The recommendation was adopted unanimously, and five academies were organized, the second being Sloan-Hendrix Academy in Imboden (Lawrence County).
Imboden was selected due to the support of the local citizens and the influence of businessman W. C. Sloan, reportedly the wealthiest man in the county. The community provided land for the campus and money for buildings and equipment. The school was established in 1899 and set to open a campus located southeast of town. The buildings were not completed on time, however, and the classes of the first session were held in city hall, with W. E. Hogan as principal. The 1900 session opened at a new two-story brick facility with a dorm that could house as many as twenty students.
During the early years, the academies suffered through financial difficulties, and, by 1906, Sloan-Hendrix was the only one of the five schools still affiliated with Hendrix College. That same year, the school dropped its affiliation with Hendrix College and began to operate under a charter and board of trustees directed by the White River Conference of Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The conference made yearly payments to keep the school afloat. In 1909, the school briefly closed but was reopened in September, under the leadership of respected educator John Christopher Eaton, when adequate funding was assured. It closed again at the end of the year and remained closed during the 1910–11 school year. In 1914, the academy was placed under the supervision of the newly formed North Arkansas Conference, establishing some degree of stability. The conference’s supervision continued until 1930. In 1923, the school was moved northwest of town to a new campus consisting of the newly constructed Eaton Hall. By 1924, a gym for student gatherings and basketball had also been built.
The curriculum provided a basic preparation for college entrance. An academy graduate was admitted to Hendrix College without entrance exams. Extracurricular activities included basketball, which was begun in 1909, and football, which was begun sometime later. In 1921, the first edition of the school yearbook, The Greyhound, was published. In 1923, the first alumni banquet was held.
The academy was never able to become financially independent. With the national economic troubles of the 1920s and the onset of the Great Depression, the school did not survive. By 1931, the academy closed, and the campus was sold that spring to the Imboden Public Schools; the name Sloan-Hendrix is still in use today for the elementary school and high school. During the life of the academy, some 277 students received diplomas.
For additional information:
Blevins, Brooks. “Mountain Mission Schools in Arkansas.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 70 (Winter 2011): 398–428.
Lawrence County, Arkansas: 1815–2001. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company, 2001.
McLeod, Walter E. Centennial History of Lawrence County. Russellville, AR: Russellville Printing Company, 1936.
Rainwater, Ida, and Earl Pettyjohn. “Early History of Sloan-Hendrix.” Lawrence County Historical Quarterly 5 (Fall 1982): 18–28.
CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas
Last Updated: 02/03/2012