Institutions and Buildings

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Abba House

Abba House was established by the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock in 1981 to offer a home to pregnant women and their children who have no place to go. It also serves as an emergency shelter for homeless women. The thirteen-bed facility in Little Rock (Pulaski County) provides shelter, food, and clothing for the women, who may stay two to six weeks after giving birth until they find a place to live. The emergency shelter is available to the homeless for up to three weeks. The Missionaries of Charity sisters, the religious order established by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, have run Abba House since 1983. Four of the sisters live in a convent next to the shelter on South Oak …

American Missionary Association

The American Missionary Association (AMA) was a nondenominational abolitionist society dedicated to providing education and political rights to African Americans. Founded on the premise that denying citizenship to African Americans was a violation of the Declaration of Independence, the AMA sought to find solutions to what was called the “Negro problem” in a divided America. In Arkansas, the AMA focused its efforts on providing education to freedmen and women, seeking to train them to survive in the antebellum South. Although the AMA’s efforts in Arkansas lasted barely a decade, the educational push of the organization persists in several remaining educational institutions. The AMA was founded in Syracuse, New York, in 1846 through the merger of a group of abolitionists who …

Arkadelphia Baptist Academy

The Arkadelphia Baptist Academy in Arkadelphia (Clark County) was one of many schools founded across the South by the American Baptist Home Mission Society, which was headquartered in New York. Beginning in 1865, the northern Baptists joined other denominations in the effort to educate the recently freed slaves across the South. In an article published in the New York Times in 1897, the society’s corresponding secretary, General Thomas J. Morgan, noted that, after the war, “the problem presented itself of the intellectual elevation of 4,000,000 human beings, just emerging from a degrading bondage.” During the thirty-two-year period between the end of the war and Morgan’s statements, the Home Mission Society had spent about $3 million, and its more than thirty institutions …

Arkadelphia Presbyterian Academy

Arkadelphia Presbyterian Academy, located in Arkadelphia (Clark County), was a co-educational elementary and secondary school operated by the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen. This board was part of the “Northern” Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), which founded schools for African Americans across the South after the Civil War. The board began opening schools for freed slaves as early as the 1860s, but the movement arrived late in Arkansas. It was not until 1889, when a new presbytery was organized in the state and large numbers of blacks from the eastern states were settling in Arkansas, that the board felt confident to begin its work in the state. The academy in Arkadelphia had earlier roots, however. According to historian Inez Moore Parker, it was …

Arkansas Baptist College

Arkansas Baptist College (ABC) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a four-year historically black liberal arts institution accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and affiliated with the Consolidated Missionary Baptist State Convention of Arkansas. In its quest to be a voice for the underrepresented student, ABC provides a quality education without charging out-of-state tuition fees. The vision of Arkansas Baptist College is thus: “To see our community, state, and nation positively influenced through the integration of academic scholarship and Christian principles to address issues having a detrimental effect on society.” Arkansas Baptist College was founded in 1884 by the Colored Baptists of the State of Arkansas. The school opened in November …

Arkansas Baptist State Convention

The Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) was organized at Brownsville, now Tulip (Dallas County), on September 21, 1848. Among the convention’s founders were William H. Bayliss, Nathaniel G. Smith, and George Ann Bledsoe. Bayliss, a lawyer and merchant who migrated from Tennessee to Arkansas in the 1830s, served as the first president of the convention. In creating the state convention, these leaders and their supporters were following a pattern, long evident in Baptist life in Europe and the United States, of local churches forming cooperative associations, with those associations sometimes forming larger conventions. It was hoped that the new convention would collect funds and inspire support for missions and education. The Civil War ravaged the nascent state Baptist organization; especially …

Arkansas Christadelphian Bible School

The Arkansas Christadelphian Bible School was founded in Martinville (Faulkner County) in 1923 as a two-week summer Bible school for Christadelphians. The organizers were Ben Scroggin and S. O. Jones of Biscoe (Prairie County), Oscar L. Dunaway and Charles Martin of Conway (Faulkner County), and J. S. Martin and J. R. Frazer of Little Rock (Pulaski County). The purpose of the school was Bible study for Christadelphians, their children, and interested friends, in tandem with recreation and fellowship. The school was established upon land donated by James Daniel Martin, a Christadelphian. In 1885, Martin erected a pavilion on his land at Cadron Cove (Faulkner County) for the purpose of holding Christadelphian gatherings. The community was renamed in 1887 for Martin …

Arkansas Holiness College

Arkansas Holiness College (AHC), founded in 1904, was the focus for a body of Wesleyan holiness believers who congregated for nearly three decades in Vilonia (Faulkner County). The preaching of Methodist evangelists Beverly Carradine and H. C. Morrison at camp meetings held at Beebe (White County) in the 1890s spurred a holiness association in Vilonia composed of Methodists and Free Methodists. Members of the association formed a grammar school that opened in 1900 under the direction of Fannie Suddarth, a teacher (and later minister) from Kentucky. The school added grades and academic levels, including a Bible department in 1905, when the Reverend C. L. Hawkins came to head the school. The name Arkansas Holiness College was adopted at this time. …

Arkansas Methodist Medical Center

Arkansas Methodist Medical Center (AMMC) in Paragould (Greene County) provides healthcare for residents of northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri. As of 2009, AMMC has more than eighty active and courtesy physicians from family practice to multiple specialties. A total staff of nearly 700 healthcare professionals works in a 400,000-square-foot facility. Salaries alone have an annual economic impact of more than $26 million. By the 1930s, Dickson Memorial Hospital in Paragould was past its prime. With combined support from citizens and the Paragould City Council, a donation of land by Joseph Bertig, and federal assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), construction on a new hospital began in 1941. The new facility was seventy-five percent completed when the beginning of World …

Baptist Health

Baptist Health, Arkansas’s largest healthcare system, has hospital campuses in Little Rock (Pulaski County), North Little Rock (Pulaski County), Arkadelphia (Clark County), Stuttgart (Arkansas County), and Heber Springs (Cleburne County). In addition to its medical centers, it also operates therapy centers, physician clinics, a retirement village, and a school of nursing and allied health. Baptist Health began in 1919 when the Arkansas Baptist State Convention voted to create a modern scientific hospital in Little Rock. The Baptist State Hospital opened with seventy-five beds in November 1920. In its first year of operation, the hospital treated 1,026 patients. Dr. J. S. Rogers was appointed superintendent of the hospital. The Baptist Health School of Nursing also began in 1920 and graduated its first …

Brockwell Gospel Music School

The Brockwell Gospel Music School offers instruction in choral and instrumental musical techniques for those who desire the improvement of church music. It operates every summer on a small campus in Brockwell (Izard County) at the intersection of State Highways 9 and 56. It was founded in 1947 as the Brockwell Music School, assumed its present name in 1962, and operates at its original site. The singing-school tradition goes back to the time of the Second Great Awakening on the American frontier in the first years of the nineteenth century. This tradition contributed significantly to the growth and power of the great revivals that especially captivated gospel-hungry settlers in the frontier South in the first third of the century. Itinerant …

Calico Rock Methodist Episcopal Church

aka: Calico Rock Music Hall
The Calico Rock Methodist Episcopal Church, located in Calico Rock (Izard County), was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, the same year it was reopened as the Calico Rock Music Hall. The building’s Craftsman style and tan and dark red bricks are unusual in the Ozark Mountains. In the sanctuary, the original banked pews, pine floors, triple tray pressed-tin ceiling, and stained glass windows are still in place, as well as the 500-pound bell in the tower. Each of the five classrooms on the first floor has several six-foot-long double-hung windows. When the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad began laying tracks along the banks of the White River in 1903, Calico Rock became a boom …

Camp Aldersgate

Camp Aldersgate in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is Arkansas’s only non-profit organization dedicated to serving children with disabilities, youths, and senior citizens in a camp environment. One of a few urban camps in the nation, Camp Aldersgate is situated on 120 wooded acres in the state’s largest city, Little Rock (Pulaski County). Dedicated in the summer of 1947, the camp had as its original purpose to serve as a place for interracial fellowship, meetings, and Christian training. Seeing a need for social change and racial harmony, a group of women of the Little Rock Methodist Council requested a grant of $25,000 from the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries of the Methodist Church in 1946. The grant …

Camp Magnolia

Camp Magnolia, also known as Civilian Public Service Camp No. 7, was the only World War II–era work camp in Arkansas established for religious conscientious objectors (COs). There, COs engaged in much the same work as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and took part in government-controlled medical experiments. The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 contained a provision that allowed those who objected to military service on grounds of religious or personal beliefs to render public service for the nation in alternative settings. This provision had been the result of intense lobbying by historic peace churches, such as the Society of Friends (Quakers), the Mennonites, and the Church of the Brethren. When conscription for the anticipated war began on …

Carmelite Monastery of St. Teresa of Jesus

The Carmelite Monastery of St. Teresa of Jesus is the home of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Little Rock (Pulaski County), a cloistered community of women in the Roman Catholic Church. The monastery is autonomous (independent) but belongs to a worldwide order composed of both men and women. The principal mission of the Carmelites is service of the Church through a life of union with God in prayer. The Carmelite Order traces its history from the twelfth century with a group of hermits living on Mount Carmel in Palestine. In the thirteenth century, they transferred to Europe. There, the order was “reformed” in the sixteenth century as a result of the Council of Trent and the many spiritual gifts of …

Carolina Methodist Church

The Carolina Methodist Church is located near Rosston (Nevada County). Constructed in 1871, the building and associated cemetery are the last remnants of the Carolina community. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 3, 1991. The first settlers to the area began arriving around 1855, when the land was part of Ouachita County. Some evidence suggests that the church congregation was founded the following year. The land where the church would be built was purchased by the board of trustees for twenty-five cents on January 15, 1870, from the John W. Shell and W. C. Hatley families. The church building was likely constructed by the following year, and the property records were transferred to …

Cathedral of St. Andrew

aka: St. Andrew's Catholic Cathedral
The Cathedral of St. Andrew is the oldest continuing place of worship in Little Rock (Pulaski County). It was dedicated in 1881 by Bishop Edward Fitzgerald, the second bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock. Built in Gothic Revival style, the Cathedral of St. Andrew is made of rusticated granite mined from the Fourche Mountains, the northern section of the Ouachita Mountains. The structure, which was designed by architect Thomas Harding, is located at 617 South Louisiana Street, between 6th and 7th streets. Seating a maximum of 450, it is a comparatively small Catholic cathedral. The bell tower contains a 3,400-pound bell, the heaviest in Pulaski County. The bell tower stands 231 feet tall and was completed in …

Catholic High School for Boys (CHS)

aka: Little Rock Catholic High School for Boys
Catholic High School for Boys (CHS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) has educated boys for three quarters of a century. Previous to the school’s inception, Subiaco Academy, a boarding school at Subiaco Abbey in Logan County, was the only secondary education option for Catholic boys, while Catholic girls have been attending Mount St. Mary Academy, operated by the Sisters of Mercy, since the 1850s. CHS was the diocese’s first inter-parochial high school, meaning that the school was to serve every parish in the Little Rock area, ensuring that Catholic boys could receive a quality, Catholic secondary education. CHS remains different from the other Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Little Rock, which encompasses the entirety of the state, given …

Centennial Baptist Church

The 1905 Gothic Revival Centennial Baptist Church, located at York and Columbia streets in Helena-West Helena (Phillips County), was listed as a National Historic Landmark on July 31, 2003. The building serves as a physical symbol of the work of the Reverend Elias Camp Morris. Morris dedicated his life to furthering the religious, political, and societal achievements of African Americans locally and nationally through his work as president and founder of the National Baptist Convention. Centennial Baptist is the only remaining structure associated with the productive life of Morris, who was pastor of the congregation in an earlier building on the site in 1879 and continued serving at the 1905 Centennial Baptist Church until his death in 1922. Morris’s outreach …

Central Baptist College

Central Baptist College in Conway (Faulkner County) is the only institution of higher education in the state affiliated with the Baptist Missionary Association of Arkansas. It complements the mission of sister schools in Texas (Jacksonville College), Mississippi (Southeastern Baptist College), as well as the disbanded Midwestern Baptist College in Oklahoma. Central Baptist College opened in 1952 in Conway under the name of Central College for Christian Workers, as the educational ministry of the North American Baptist Association (NABA), which was later renamed the Baptist Missionary Association of Arkansas (BMAA). The college began as an extension of Jacksonville College in Texas, holding classes in the Temple Baptist Church facilities in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Soon, however, the denomination purchased for the …

Christ Church Parochial and Industrial School

Christ Church Parochial and Industrial School was a private school for African-American children operated in Forrest City (St. Francis County) by the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas from 1923 until 1968. It was closely related to Christ Church Mission, an African-American congregation founded in 1921. The mission and school were founded by the Right Reverend Edward T. Demby, the African-American suffragan (assistant) bishop for “Colored Work” in the Diocese of Arkansas and in the southwestern province of the national Episcopal Church. Bishop Demby sought to build a thriving African-American ministry in eastern Arkansas and also saw the need for quality education in academic and vocational skills for the black children of Forrest City and the surrounding county. He requested and received …

Christ of the Ozarks

Christ of the Ozarks is a statue located in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) on top of Magnetic Mountain. The white mortar figure of Jesus Christ is seven stories tall and weighs almost two million pounds (about 540 tons). The statue is one of five giant statues of Christ in the world and one of only two in North America. It was sculpted by Emmet A. Sullivan and funded by the Elna M. Smith Foundation. The Elna M. Smith Foundation was founded in 1965 as a non-profit organization named for, and headed by, the wife of Gerald L. K. Smith, who gained prominence as an anti-Semitic minister and political agitator in the 1930s. At a reported cost of $5,000, the foundation …

Clear Springs Tabernacle

The Clear Springs Tabernacle is an unenclosed brace-framed structure constructed in Clark County in 1887 to house religious services. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 13, 1992. The first settlers to the area arrived in 1840 when the Meeks family established a farm in the area known as Clear Spring (also called Clear Springs). It is located about four miles east of Antoine (Pike County). The settlement grew slowly, and a post office operated in the area from 1856 until 1911. A school also served the area from the late nineteenth century until it consolidated in 1930 with Okolona (Clark County). Never very large, the community also supported a store and several churches. The …

Colored Industrial Institute

The Colored Industrial Institute in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) was one of the first Catholic-supported schools for African-American children in Arkansas. The school was established by Father John Michael Lucey, a white Confederate veteran, who was considered progressive for speaking out against lynching and protesting efforts to pass separate coach legislation. Planning for the school began in May 1889. Lucey approached leading citizens of Jefferson County to fill the school’s board of directors. This integrated board included wealthy black Pine Bluff citizens, including Ferdinand (Ferd) Havis and Wiley Jones. Jones was also one of three members of the school’s executive committee and served as secretary. The other two executive committee members were Pine Bluff mayor J. W. Bocage and Reverend …

Ecclesia College

Ecclesia College describes itself as a Christian “work learning” college located in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties). Founded in 1975 by Oren Paris II as a training center for young missionaries, Ecclesia was accredited as a four-year college in 2005, with a strong emphasis in Christian faith and character, work ethic, mentoring, and service. In 2017, the college became embroiled in a scandal regarding the redirection of General Improvement Fund (GIF) money by state legislators to the small college. Ecclesia College is a branch of the “Ecclesia Network.” Ecclesia, the parent organization, was incorporated in 1976 and has participated in Christian service worldwide through ministries such as Youth With a Mission (a one-year training program), Twila Paris Productions, Bibles for the …

Elna M. Smith Foundation

aka: Five Sacred Projects
aka: Sacred Projects
The Elna M. Smith Foundation was created in 1965 by Gerald L. K. Smith and his wife, Elna M. Smith, for whom it was named. The foundation is the nonprofit organization that serves as the umbrella company supervising the Five Sacred Projects and other activities and attractions on Magnetic Mountain, just east of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). Gerald L. K. Smith was a controversial politician and anti-Semitic minister in the 1930s and 1940s. That controversy followed him to Eureka Springs. When he retired, he decided to leave politics and other activities behind him, and he and his wife committed to focus their energies on creating a legacy of preserving Americana. Included in their dream was buying and restoring historic houses. …

Emmet United Methodist Church

The Emmet United Methodist Church is located at 209 Walnut Street in Emmet (Nevada and Hempstead counties). The church was constructed around 1917 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 23, 2009. Emmet was platted in 1873 when construction on the Cairo and Fulton Railroad reached the area. Most of the land where the town is located became the property of the president and vice president of the railroad in 1874. Several lots in the town were set aside for the use of schools and churches. A Methodist church was established in the area around 1855 and was used for several decades. The church received a lot in the new town for construction of a …

Episcopal Collegiate School

Episcopal Collegiate School is an independent college-preparatory school in the Episcopal tradition located on thirty-four gated acres near downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County). Founded in 1998, it teaches students in grades Pre-K through the twelfth grade, with a total enrollment of 780 students in 2015. In 1996, a small group of parents sought to establish a new middle school in Little Rock with a similar Episcopal educational experience as the Cathedral School, an established Little Rock K–6 school. As a result of this effort, the Cathedral Middle School was established in 1997 and began operations in 1998 as an independent and separately incorporated educational institution. In the fall of 1998, the new Cathedral Middle School began teaching its first students …

First Baptist Church (Little Rock)

aka: EMOBA
aka: Museum of Black Arkansans and Performing Arts Center
The historic building of First Baptist Church of Little Rock (Pulaski County) is located at the corner of 12th and Louisiana streets just south of downtown. Various congregations of First Baptist worshiped in locations around the city throughout the 1800s. In 1889, First Baptist purchased a new lot and began construction on a large brick church at the historic site of 12th and Louisiana streets. The current building was built on the same site in 1941–42 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 21, 1994. In 1974, the First Baptist congregation moved to west Little Rock. The buildings on Louisiana remained unused until 1993, when Ernestine (Ernie) Dodson purchased the buildings on Louisiana to create …

Great Passion Play

aka: Passion Play
The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) is an outdoor drama depicting the last week in the life of Jesus Christ. There was a “soft” media opening on July 14, 1968, followed the next night with the first public performance. More than 7.5 million people from all over the world—an average of 100,000 a year—have attended this tourist attraction, the outdoor play with the largest attendance in the United States. The production includes animals, period costumes, a life-sized city street scene, numerous special effects, original music, state-of-the-art sound and lighting, and more than 200 cast members. The Great Passion Play is one of the Five Sacred Projects of the Elna M. Smith Foundation, created by Gerald L. K. Smith and …

Harmonial Vegetarian Society

The Harmonial Vegetarian Society was an experiment in communal living in Benton County, along the lines of the famed Oneida Community of New York, whose members practiced a strict vegetarian diet and shared all property in common. Though it was in existence for only four years, it has the distinction of being the only utopian commune in nineteenth-century Arkansas. Historical records regarding the Harmonial Vegetarian Society are sketchy at best. The community started in about 1857 when Dr. James E. Spencer, a Connecticut physician, moved to Arkansas and purchased a large tract of land in Benton County. He named this land Harmony Springs and settled a group of vegetarian “Reform Christians” on his property later that year. This group, for …

Henderson-Brown College

Henderson-Brown College (HBC) was a private, co-educational college located in Arkadelphia (Clark County). HBC served as a Methodist institution of higher learning in the southern part of the state. It exists today as Henderson State University. HBC was founded in 1890 as Arkadelphia Methodist College. Local members of the Methodist state convention had decided to start a college to serve students in southern Arkansas and to compete with Ouachita Baptist College (now Ouachita Baptist University), also located in Arkadelphia. The school was the third Methodist college in the state, joining male-only Hendrix College in Conway (Faulkner County) and Galloway Female College in Searcy (White County). Arkadelphia Methodist College was the first co-educational school in the Methodist state convention. Methodist citizens …

Henry’s Chapel

Henry’s Chapel was a log church built at Mound Prairie (Hempstead County) around 1817 by Methodist pioneers from Bellevue Valley, Missouri. Many accounts refer to Henry’s Chapel as the area’s first Protestant church. In 1817, a Methodist conference appointed itinerant Methodist preacher William Stevenson to the Hot Springs Circuit, a wilderness area on the western frontier in what would later become southwest Arkansas. Stevenson had scouted the area in 1813 and realized the need to establish a church. He chose the tiny settlement of Mound Prairie as the place for it. At Stevenson’s urging, thirty families from the Bellevue Methodist Church moved to the area. The leader of the group was the Reverend John Henry, a thirty-eight-year-old preacher and farmer. Several others …

Hillcrest Hall

aka: Bible Church of Little Rock
The Bible Church of Little Rock was constructed in 1961 on one of the last undeveloped lots in the Hillcrest neighborhood of Little Rock (Pulaski County). It now serves the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) as Hillcrest Hall and is used for meetings, special events, and programs. The Midland Hills area of the Hillcrest neighborhood opened to development in three phases, beginning in October 1908 and ending in May 1911. However, the triangular section of land bordered by Kavanaugh Boulevard and Martin and Lee streets was never developed, possibly because of its steep terrain. In 1961, the Bible Church of Little Rock acquired the property as a site for a permanent sanctuary for a congregation that had met in a …

Holy Angels Convent

The Holy Angels Convent located near Jonesboro (Craighead County) is home to the Community of Olivetan Benedictine Sisters in Arkansas. These sisters have provided education and health care to northeast Arkansas for over a century. The Community of Olivetan Benedictine Sisters at Holy Angels had it origins in Convent Maria Rickenbach high in the Swiss Alps near Engelberg in Canton Unterwalden. In response to requests from early missionaries for sisters to teach in the mission fields of America, five sisters were sent to establish a base in Conception, Missouri, in 1874. Additional sisters followed in succeeding years. Because many German-speaking immigrants were coming to northeast Arkansas, Father E. J. Weibel, an early missionary in northeast Arkansas, requested sisters from Missouri …

Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and School

The Immaculate Heart of Mary campus in the Marche (Pulaski County) community of North Little Rock (Pulaski County) has undergone several stages of growth since it was established to serve the area’s Catholics in 1878. The first Polish settlers arrived to the area via train from Chicago, Illinois, in 1877 and began forming a distinctly Polish community. Their first project after establishing rudimentary houses was building a small parish, which was overseen by the Reverend Anthony Jaworski. He and Father Joseph Strub selected eighty acres around Marche and purchased the tract for one dollar on behalf of the Holy Ghost Fathers in Morrilton (Conway County). The land they chose was centered on a hill in an otherwise low-lying area. The …

John Brown University (JBU)

Founded in 1919 in Siloam Springs (Benton County), John Brown University (JBU) is a private comprehensive university known for its Christian identity, academic emphasis, and professionally oriented programs. The university began as a high school and junior college that emphasized vocational training for poor young people. It evolved into a four-year liberal arts university and later developed graduate programs in business and counseling. Throughout its history, the university has forged close ties with the churches and industries of northwest Arkansas and business leaders such as Sam Walton and John Tyson. JBU was founded by John Elward Brown, a self-educated evangelist, publisher, and radio entrepreneur who grew up in rural poverty in late-nineteenth-century Iowa. In July 1919, Brown, at that time …

Levi Hospital

aka: Leo N. Levi Hospital
Levi Hospital in Hot Springs (Garland County) is a nonprofit hospital that offers mental and physical therapy. Its mission is to provide specialty care for the residents of Hot Springs and surrounding communities, serving patients without regard to race, religion, creed, national origin, gender, age, disability, or economic means. It has a history of providing services to people regardless of their ability to pay. Levi Hospital is the only healthcare provider in Garland County that provides inpatient adult psychiatric services as well as rehabilitation therapy in the thermal waters of Hot Springs National Park. It also offers a certified athletic trainers program for area schools in which trained healthcare professionals are present at athletic practices and games to help prevent …

Little Rock College

Little Rock College was the second attempt by the Diocese of Little Rock to establish an institution of higher education. Andrew Byrne, Arkansas’s first Roman Catholic prelate, began St. Andrew’s College near Fort Smith (Sebastian County) in 1849, but it closed in 1861 due to the Civil War. John B. Morris, Arkansas’s third Catholic bishop, established Little Rock College using the wealth accumulated by his predecessor, Edward M. Fitzgerald, who died in 1907. Fitzgerald left so much to his successor that, in addition to the college, Morris eventually founded St. Joseph’s Orphanage in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), a diocesan newspaper, and a seminary. Little Rock College opened in September 1908, situated between 25th and 26th streets, and Gaines and State …

Little Rock Scripture Study (LRSS)

Little Rock Scripture Study (LRSS), a former ministry of the Diocese of Little Rock that develops Roman Catholic Bible study materials, began as a plan to provide Bible study for interested Catholics in central Arkansas. By 2009, Little Rock Scripture Study materials were used in 7,500 Catholic parishes across the United States and fifty-four countries around the world. Tammy and Fred Woell of Little Rock (Pulaski County), along with Jerome Kodell, a Benedictine priest who later became the abbot of Subiaco Abbey, organized a group to begin planning the Bible study. The group sponsored its first Bible study in the fall of 1974, using a twelve-week study guide and commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, written by Kodell. Fifty …

Marylake Monastery

Founded in 1952 and located thirteen miles south of Little Rock (Pulaski County), Marylake Monastery is a residence for Discalced Carmelite friars of the Province of St. Thérèse, which includes Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. The monastery is a novitiate for the province, which is a type of religious “boot camp” for young men entering the Carmelite Order of the Roman Catholic Church. As solitude is sought as an aid to contemplative prayer, the rural site was chosen because it offered a more secluded setting than the former novitiate within the urban setting of San Antonio. In 1895, brothers of the Tull family bought a 400-acre tract in East End (Saline County) and dammed Clear Creek to form a fifty-acre …

Methodist Children’s Home

The Methodist Children’s Home, located in Little Rock (Pulaski County), began as a movement to create an orphanage in the denomination’s Little Rock Conference in 1897. The institution was incorporated on May 3, 1899, in Pulaski County and called the Arkansas Methodist Orphanage of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The trustees were Colonel George Thornburgh, Dr. James Thomas, Reverend J. A. Cason, and George Culberhouse. Soon afterward, the stockholders of the Women’s Industrial Home at Fifteenth and Commerce Streets offered their property, consisting of three lots and a two-story building, to the orphanage incorporators. Mrs. L. R. Tabor and Mrs. Logan H. Roots were the property’s largest stockholders. Orphanage officials accepted the property, and the home began receiving children. The …

Missionary Baptist College

In the decade before the Great Depression, Missionary Baptist College opened its doors in Sheridan (Grant County). This small denominational educational institution brought the advantages of higher education to what was then a rural area, and though it operated only briefly, it exerted profound influence upon Missionary Baptist education in the state. The churches of the State Association of Missionary Baptist Churches of Arkansas, organized in 1902, have long maintained a commitment to Christian education, especially the training of student ministers. Three years after its founding, the association took over the operation of Buckner College at Witcherville (Sebastian County) in western Arkansas. However, its location far from the center of the Landmark Baptist movement in the state hindered its support, …

Missionary Baptist Seminary

The Missionary Baptist Seminary and Institute serves as the oldest educational institution among Missionary Baptists in the state of Arkansas. The school fulfills the role of training pastors in the Bible and the foundational principles of pastoral work. The Missionary Baptist Seminary and Institute was started on April 1, 1934, when Antioch Baptist Church, located at 22nd and Brown streets in Little Rock (Pulaski County), passed a motion during a regular business meeting to start the school. The Great Depression led to the closing of the Missionary Baptist College of Sheridan (Grant County), and the new seminary was started in response. Conceived by pastor Benjamin Marcus Bogard and two other men, J. Louis Guthrie of Oklahoma and Conrad Nathan Glover, …

Monastery of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge

aka: Good Shepherd Home
The Monastery of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge, also known as the Good Shepherd Home, has provided education and childcare in Hot Springs (Garland County) since its inception in the early twentieth century. The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge, a Catholic order of nuns who operate the monastery daycare, attracted national and state attention in 2007 when most of their members were excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church for heresy; these constitute the only excommunications issued in the history of the Diocese of Little Rock. The monastery began with the arrival of five French-speaking Canadian nuns to Hot Springs from Ottawa on September 18, 1908. They came at the request of Bishop John Baptist Morris, who …

Mount Pleasant Methodist Church

Mount Pleasant Methodist Church is located on Highway 248 east of Waldron (Scott County). The church’s architectural style is not common in the area, making it a unique nineteenth-century church for Scott County. The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 5, 1986. Methodist congregations were well established in Scott County as early as the 1820s. After the Civil War, Joseph L. Self brought his family to the Ouachitas from rural Georgia. They farmed and soon opened several small businesses on their property. By the 1890s, these consisted of a cotton gin, a saw and grist mill, three general stores, and a blacksmith shop. As the small-scale enterprises attracted other families to the area, it became …

Mount St. Mary Academy

Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock (Pulaski County), a Catholic school established in 1851, is Arkansas’s oldest educational institution still teaching today. The academy is the state’s only all-girl secondary school. Today, Mount St. Mary educates about 550 high school students. In late 1850, Bishop Andrew Byrne went to Ireland in search of an order of sisters to promote Catholic education in Arkansas. Upon contacting the Sisters of Mercy, Byrne was granted twelve members of the order. The women arrived in Little Rock on February 5, 1851, a date now known as “Founders Day.” The sisters lived in Byrne’s house on 2nd Street and then in a meeting house on Markham Street. Their “official” convent at 6th and Louisiana streets …

New Home Church and School

New Home Church sits on Peach Orchard Road just south of Bella Vista (Benton County), on 1.7 acres now within the city limits of Bentonville (Benton County). A school was also once located on the property. Benton County real estate records list the church property being transferred on November 21, 1896, from someone named Peterson to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the church was built shortly thereafter. At some point, the church came to be called the New Home United Methodist Church. As described in the application for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, which was granted on January 28, 1988, the modest frame church building is a gabled rectangle, three window bays in length, entered by a …

Ouachita Baptist University (OBU)

Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) is an independent, residential institution in the liberal arts tradition associated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Founded on April 8, 1886, it capped longstanding Arkansas Baptist interest in making higher learning more readily available to more people, in providing an educated ministry and educated lay leadership, in strengthening denominational loyalty, and in extending denominational influence. It gained university status in 1965 and has been rated by US News and World Report as the “No. 1 Baccalaureate College in the South” and included in its list of “Great Schools, Great Prices.” In 2013, it offered sixty-one degree options in eight schools within the university, and its mission statement proclaimed it “a Christ-centered learning community. Embracing the …

Our Lady of the Ozarks Shrine

Our Lady of the Ozarks is a shrine church located atop Mount Gaylor in Crawford County on Highway 71, just south of Winslow (Washington County) and the Crawford–Washington county line. It was organized due to the efforts of a group of women who desired to have a parish for families in the remote area. Established in 1942, it began serving as a chapel for Roman Catholics in the area as well as a popular retreat and annual pilgrimage location for all the state’s Catholics. The shrine was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 29, 2019. Before 1942, the towns in the Boston Mountains did not have a chapel where local Catholics could attend mass—the closest churches being …