The Young Memorial at Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County)—originally called the War Memorial Monument of Conway—is a sculptural monument erected to honor students of the school who died serving in the U.S. military during World War I.
Six Hendrix students lost their lives in World War I. Five of these men died of diseases either in the United States or abroad; the sixth, Robert W. Young, died in combat. The idea for a war memorial on the Hendrix campus was conceived by the Hendrix Memorial Association, a student-run group, in 1919. With the help of faculty advisor Professor W. O. Wilson, the group soon raised $800 of the expected $1,200–$1,500 cost through student and alumni donations. By the spring of 1920, plans for the monument were taking shape, and construction began on April 16 of that year. The design for the monument came from George Currie, a substitute Latin teacher at Hendrix whose father was a marble dealer in Kirkland, Indiana.
The monument was originally scheduled to be finished in time for commencement in early June, but construction delays forced the completion date into November. Finally, on November 21, 1920, the memorial was unveiled before a large crowd on the west lawn of Hendrix’s Tabor Hall. The featured address was given by Commander James J. Harrison of the American Legion, who stated, “It is befitting indeed that we raise here this material memorial, but the spiritual memorial which these men have left will far outlast any crumbling marble or corroding bronze.” The ceremony, which was presided over by Wilson, also included vocal and instrumental music, other speeches, and a twenty-four-gun salute in honor of the dead. At the end of the service, a large American flag—an actual World War I battle flag that had been draped across the monument—was removed to reveal the completed work.
The Young Memorial, which features an unusually detailed base with twin seats carved in allegorical figures representing Peace and Liberty, is the most elaborate of the World War I memorials located in Arkansas, most of which consist of depictions of American doughboys.
The memorial was moved from its original position to the newly constructed Young Stadium and athletic field in 1923 and subsequently became known as the Young Memorial. In 1973, Young Stadium was demolished to make room for the new Mills Center, and the memorial was moved to a temporary location, where it was restored by Hendrix art professor Bill Hawes. It was returned to near the exact spot of its original 1920 site in 1974, and on December 8 of that year, it was rededicated by the Faulkner County Historical Society, which added a second plaque.
The Young Memorial was moved again in 2013 and expanded to honor two other Hendrix alumni, brothers Benjamin and Jeremy Wise, a U.S. Navy Seal and Army Special Forces soldier, respectively, who died fighting in Afghanistan. Designed by sculptor Ken Hruby of Boston, Massachusetts, the Young-Wise Memorial Stadium and Plaza includes large, bronze negative silhouettes of military helmets. The revamped memorial was dedicated on November 9, 2013.
For additional information:
Clark, Elmer T. The Stadium Book. Conway, AR: Hendrix College, 1923.
“The Doughboy Statue at Hendrix (1920).” Faulkner Facts and Fiddlings 37 (Fall/Winter 1995): 85–87.
“Young Memorial.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Mark K. Christ
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
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