Institutions and Buildings

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Ozark Industrial College and School of Theology

The Ozark Industrial College and School of Theology was sponsored by the Pentecostal Holiness Church and operated by college president Dan W. Evans from 1927 to 1932 at Monte Ne (Benton County), in buildings formerly part of William “Coin” Harvey’s Monte Ne resort. Dan Webster Evans (July 21, 1885–September 19, 1963) was born and raised in Boone County and married Rexie Gilbert (May 13, 1892–September 29, 1976) there in 1910; they had six children. His religious upbringing is unknown, but from 1914 to 1915, he and his wife were faculty members at the Pentecostal Holiness School in Stratford,Oklahoma. Pentecostalism grew out of the American Holiness movement during the late nineteenth century, and the Pentecostal Holiness Church, one division of that …

Powhatan Methodist Church

The Powhatan Methodist Church is one of the historic buildings found at Powhatan State Park. The church exemplifies the nineteenth-century Greek Revival architectural style in which it was built. Records indicate that the Powhatan Methodist Church was formed in 1858 with a 284-member congregation under the direction of four local pastors. Members included white settlers, probationers, and African-American residents. Before the church building was constructed, church members in Powhatan (Lawrence County) may have gathered at the Black River for worship services. Around 1874, building plans for the Powhatan Methodist Church included one double-door entrance at the front and windows placed on each side of the building. The interior of the church has a large sanctuary with two cloak rooms that …

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 …

Ronoake Baptist Church

The Ronoake Baptist Church is a Craftsman-style, historically African-American house of worship located near Gurdon (Clark County). Constructed in 1945, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 23, 2011. The church, also known as Ronoke and New Ronok Baptist Church, is still active in the twenty-first century. The church is located at the north end of Ronoake Baptist Church Road, north of the Gurdon city limits. The church was founded near Smithton (Clark County) in 1893. After meeting for several years on privately owned land, the church members began raising money by 1918 to purchase land on which they could build a permanent church. By the next year, land had been purchased near a cemetery …

Shiloh Meeting Hall

aka: Shiloh Church
Located on the banks of Spring Creek in downtown Springdale (Washington and Benton counties), the historic Shiloh Meeting Hall—formerly called the Shiloh Church and the Odd Fellows Lodge—is one of the oldest buildings in northwestern Arkansas. Built in 1871, it has served as a gathering place for church congregations, fraternal organizations, and civic clubs, and it has hosted many community events. The two-story frame building was a collaborative project of the Shiloh Regular Baptist Church (also known as the Shiloh Primitive Baptist Church), Liberty Missionary Baptist Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and the Springdale Masonic Lodge No. 316. Land was donated by the Reverend John Holcomb, who was a minister, an elder, and an influential member of the Shiloh …

Shorter College

aka: Bethel Institute
Shorter College in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) is a two-year institution of higher learning with a liberal arts curriculum that has expanded to include para-professional programs. Founded as Bethel Institute in 1886 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) to educate former slaves and to train teachers, the college occupies three and a half blocks at 600 Locust Street, east of Interstate 30. A thirty-three-member board of trustees, chaired by the bishop of the AME’s Twelfth Episcopal District in Arkansas and Oklahoma, oversees the school. Classes were first held in the basement of Bethel AME Church at 9th and Broadway in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on September 15, 1886. Rising enrollment led to acquisition in 1888 of a two-story frame building …

St. Agnes Catholic Church

St. Agnes Catholic Church in Mena (Polk County) is the center of worship for St. Agnes Parish, which was established by Bishop Edward Fitzgerald in 1896. A temporary wooden structure first served the congregation, with a two-story frame building following. A new church building was completed in 1922, and St. Agnes Catholic Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991, having retained all of its significant architectural and decorative features. Mena was incorporated as a township on September 18, 1896, as settlers began to flood into the area around the Kansas City Southern rail line. Within a month of Mena’s incorporation, Bishop Fitzgerald established the parish, and with the help of Father Patrick Enright of Fayetteville …

St. Andrew’s College

St. Andrew’s College, located near Fort Smith (Sebastian County), was the first attempt to found a Roman Catholic college in Arkansas. It was established in 1849 by Irish native Andrew Byrne, the first bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock. Byrne never had more than ten priests in Arkansas, and he maintained the Church with funds from the Austrian-based Leopoldine society and the French-based Society for the Propagation of the Faith. With this support, Byrne purchased land near Fort Smith to found the first Catholic college in Arkansas. When later incorporated into Fort Smith, the area was known as the “Catholic mile.” It was bordered on the north by Grand Avenue, on the south by Dodson Avenue, and on the east …

St. Bernards Healthcare

St. Bernards Healthcare, based in Jonesboro (Craighead County), was founded by the Olivetan Benedictine sisters at Holy Angels Convent and is the largest employer in northeast Arkansas, with more than 2,200 employees. Its mission remains: “To provide Christ-like care to the community through education, treatment and health services.” Like many contemporary healthcare institutions, St. Bernards was begun in response to a crisis—a malaria fever epidemic that raged throughout northeast Arkansas in 1899. Civic leaders realized that the events of the 1890s had highlighted the need for a hospital, and as the twentieth century dawned, the idea was gaining momentum. A first challenge, and one that would be ongoing throughout the century, was to raise money necessary for a hospital. The …

St. Edward Catholic Church

St. Edward Catholic Church is part of the second Catholic parish to be established in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and is located on the east side of the city. It began to accommodate increased German settlement in Arkansas during the 1870s and 1880s. Its first building was dedicated in August 1885 as St. Edward Catholic Church in honor of the patron saint of Little Rock bishop Edward Fitzgerald. A new building was built in the early 1900s, and there have been several renovations over the years; it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. As more Hispanics moved to central Arkansas in the 1990s, St. Edward attracted these parishioners by giving sermons in Spanish. Growing oppression …

St. John’s Seminary

St. John’s Seminary opened in 1911 in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on Gaines Street as a wing of the Little Rock College for Boys. In its fifty-six-year run, the seminary produced hundreds of pastors, teachers, chaplains, and priests. The seminary was relocated to North Tyler Street in Little Rock’s Pulaski Heights neighborhood in 1916 but was closed in 1967 due to financial constraints and a shortage of trained faculty. Today, the campus is the home of the St. John Catholic Center, housing the administrative offices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock. St. John’s Seminary was started in September 1911 by Bishop John Baptist Morris, who decided the best way to obtain new priests was to open a seminary …

St. Joseph’s Home

aka: St. Joseph Center
St. Joseph’s Home sits on a summit overlooking North Little Rock (Pulaski County) and offers picturesque views of the Arkansas River and Pinnacle Mountain. Since 1910, the home has been a source of refuge for many Arkansans, children and elderly, as well as U.S. Army officers of World War I. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 4, 1976. Now called St. Joseph Center, it is home to a non-profit organization that offers urban farming opportunities. The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, under the directive of Bishop John Baptist Morris, built St. Joseph’s Home. On July 1, 1907, Morris purchased a 720-acre farm, which at the time, was about four miles north of what is now …

St. Mary’s Catholic Church (Helena-West Helena)

St. Mary’s Catholic Church is a Gothic Revival–style building along Columbia Street in Helena-West Helena (Phillips County), designed by renowned architect and designer Charles Eames and his architectural partner Robert Walsh. Charles Eames was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended Washington University in St. Louis for a few years before opening an architecture firm with Charles Grey and Walter E. Pauley. After a solo trip to Mexico in 1933, Eames started a new firm with Walsh in St. Louis in 1934. During the 1930s, Eames and Robert Walsh worked on several projects in and around St. Louis as well as two Catholic churches in eastern Arkansas: one in Helena-West Helena and one in Paragould (Greene County). Eames …

St. Mary’s Catholic Church (Paragould)

St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Paragould (Greene County) is a brick-and-steel structure designed by renowned architect Charles Eames and his architectural partner Robert Walsh in 1935. Charles Eames was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, where he attended Washington University before opening an architecture firm with Charles Grey and Walter E. Pauley. After a solo trip to Mexico in 1933, Eames started a new firm with Robert Walsh in 1934. During the next few years, Eames and Walsh worked on several projects in and around St. Louis, as well as two Catholic churches in eastern Arkansas: one in what is now Helena-West Helena (Phillips County) and one in Paragould. Eames eventually gained an international reputation as an architect and …

St. Mary’s Church (Altus)

aka: Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church (Altus)
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, more commonly known as St. Mary’s Church, was founded in Altus (Franklin County) in 1879. It has been located atop Pond Creek Mountain, better known as St. Mary’s Mountain, since its inception. The congregation was founded by and for immigrants from Germany and Switzerland. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 and the Kulturkampf (religious persecution) of the 1870s in Germany drove many Catholics out of Europe and to the Altus region of Arkansas. As these new immigrants did not speak English, there was a conscious effort on the part of the Church to get a German-speaking priest in order to maintain these immigrants in the Catholic faith. After St. Mary’s became established, the fact …

St. Scholastica Monastery

St. Scholastica Monastery, a community of Benedictine sisters in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), has been a religious presence in the state of Arkansas since its founding in 1879. Their call is not to any specific work but rather to a life of seeking God through common and private prayer, work, leisure, and extending hospitality in service to the needs of the church and civic community. By living that call, they have impacted the lives of many in the state and beyond in education, healthcare, and social service. The sisters’ contribution includes having staffed three girls’ high schools for boarding and day students; conducting elementary schools; operating four hospitals in rural areas; and caring for children in an orphanage in Pine …

St. Vincent Hot Springs

aka: St. Joseph's Mercy Health Center
aka: Mercy Hot Springs
aka: CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs
Founded as St. Joseph’s Infirmary, St. Vincent Hot Springs is the second-oldest hospital in Arkansas, serving the medical needs of Hot Springs (Garland County) and its surrounding communities since 1888. St. Vincent Hot Springs is a 282-bed, acute-care hospital located on Werner Street in Hot Springs. In the 1880s, the Reverend Patrick McGowan, who settled in Hot Springs after retiring, asked Hot Springs physician Dr. J. M. Keller to buy a suitable building and its surrounding property for a hospital. In 1888, Mother Aloysius Burke and Sister Mary Clare, two Sisters of Mercy, came to Hot Springs from Little Rock (Pulaski County) to prepare the thirty-bed hospital, St. Joseph’s Infirmary, for its grand opening. The hospital opened to Hot Spring residents …

State Association of Missionary Baptist Churches of Arkansas

aka: Arkansas State Baptist Association
The State Association of Missionary Baptist Churches of Arkansas (also known as the Arkansas State Baptist Association), an organization representing some 600 Landmark Missionary Baptist Churches in Arkansas, was formed as a result of a dispute that arose in the 1890s among Baptists across the South concerning the nature of the church and the role of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in local congregational affairs. Many Baptists, especially the followers the Landmark principles set down by James R. Graves and James M. Pendleton earlier in the century, came to see the convention system, with its expanding system of boards and commissions, as a threat to local church impendence. Led by clergymen such as William A. Clark and Ben M. Bogard, …

Subiaco Abbey and Academy

Subiaco Abbey and Academy, a Benedictine monastery and college-prep boarding school, began as St. Benedict’s Colony, established in 1877. St. Benedict’s Colony provided for the settlement of German-speaking immigrants in western Arkansas and laid the groundwork for the Subiaco Academy and Subiaco Abbey, both founded in 1891. The academy and abbey evolved over the last 100 years into the present Subiaco Abbey and Academy, located on extensive farmland in Logan County. By 1877, Abbot Martin Marty of St. Meinrad’s Abbey in southern Indiana was pursuing his dream of establishing a Benedictine mission on the western frontier. After hearing of the desire for a German Catholic colony in Arkansas, Marty contacted the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad in order to …

Temple Meir Chayim

Temple Meir Chayim at 4th and Holly streets in McGehee (Desha County) was completed in 1947; it was designed in the Romanesque Revival style with Mission influence. The synagogue serves the Jewish community of southeastern Arkansas and is the only synagogue in McGehee. The first documented Jewish immigrant to Arkansas was Abraham Block, who started a general store in Washington (Hempstead County) by 1825. Although the population of Arkansas had experienced growth by 1840, there were still relatively few Jewish inhabitants. In the 1850s, many Jewish businesses were concentrated in the central, southern, and eastern areas of the state, but there were few places of worship. After the Civil War, the Jewish population of Arkansas reached 4,000. There was a synagogue …

Texarkana Baptist Orphanage

The Texarkana Baptist Orphanage, founded in 1906 and chartered in 1907, is a charitable ministry of the churches of the State Association of Missionary Baptist Churches of Arkansas. During its almost a century of operation, it has assisted several thousand needy boys and girls. It is administered by a board of five directors appointed annually and is supported by offerings from Missionary Baptist churches of the American Baptist Association across the country. It also enjoys widespread support within the Texarkana (Miller County) business and professional community. Although children of Baptist parents are given first priority, the home is open to all “orphaned, dependent, and neglected” children. Originally, children who met these criteria were referred to the home by Arkansas Missionary …

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, located at 310 West 17th Street in Little Rock (Pulaski County), is a parish church and the seat of the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. From the arrival of the first bishop in 1839 until late 1884, the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas operated without a cathedral. On October 19, 1884, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral was formally established and held its first services. Designed in English Gothic Revival style, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is a common-bond brick structure with the main section in the shape of a cruciform. The interior is primarily darkly stained pine, punctuated with numerous stained-glass windows and motifs representing the trinity, including …

Williams Baptist University

Williams Baptist University is a comprehensive liberal arts institution owned and operated by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Founded in Pocahontas (Randolph County) in 1941, the college was moved to Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County) in 1946. The university is one of two institutions of higher education affiliated with the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, the other institution being Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark County). The impetus for the establishment of the university was first provided by Dr. Henry E. Watters, former president of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, who had hoped to revive Jonesboro Baptist College, an institution that had failed during the early years of the Great Depression. During the mid-1930s, Watters attempted to enlist support for the …

Williford Methodist Church

The Williford Methodist Church, located near the northwestern intersection of Ferguson and Hail streets in Williford (Sharp County), was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 22, 1992. Located behind the wood-frame structure is a large cemetery, which is not included in the historic property. When Jeremiah Baird settled near the Spring River in 1841, others soon followed. Within a short time, Williford was established. The community experienced slow growth until the construction of the railroad in the post–Civil War years. The town was incorporated in 1914. The town’s congregations of various religious denominations shared the local schoolhouse for regular services. In 1910, the Methodist congregation initiated the raising of the town’s first church building. The church was constructed by …

Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA)

aka: YWCA
From its beginnings in 1858, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) has been dedicated to bringing women together to consider, discuss, and ameliorate America’s racial, social, and economic ills. Fueled with, and informed by, the spirit of progressive reform, the YWCA’s largely Protestant, middle-class membership was further engaged in “Christian social work,” or community activism, which was directed particularly at women less fortunate than themselves. In Arkansas, the best known YWCA was located in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Founded in 1911, the Little Rock YWCA, which was located at 4th and Scott streets, was organized to assist women and girls in the community by providing them with access to education, recreational activities, employment, and lodging. Its original founders were Mery …