Saturday, May 30, 2009

Marylake Carmelite Monastery, Saline County

A familiar and always welcomed sight alongside Arch Street Pike near East End is that of Marylake Monastery. It was built as a country club by the Shriners back in the 1920s, but it had a short life as such. Another use that didn't take was as a hospital set up by the noted quack, John Richard Brinkley.

In 1952 it became a novitiate for friars and nuns entering the Discalced Carmelite order and that it has been ever since. I'm sure I'm not alone in absorbing a feeling of peace that borders on reverence whenever I drive by.

(To be sure, Marylake is not, strictly speaking a church. Nor is there an official web site. But I would point in the direction of Father John Michael Payne's blog to give you a glimpse into life at Marylake.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

1st Presbyterian, Conway

The steel cross was installed in 2005.

stained glass trellis vine in pastor's office

Friday, May 22, 2009

Morris Baptist Chapple, Keo

It's just outside of town by the dunking creek.

(In case you think I misspelled it.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

1st United Methodist, Fordyce

The non-continuous roof line, the multiple stories on the left and the single story sanctuary on the right might give this church an uneven appearance were it not for the totally symmetrical entry and grand dormer in the center of the building.

And those colors just tie it to the earth.

Fordyce United Methodist is on the
National Register of Historic Places.

Around the corner is the Lighthouse,
UMC's community activity center.
church web site

Sunday, May 17, 2009

1st United Methodist, Searcy

A lot of nice architectural features in this church, built in 1872. The sanctuary was built to seat 400 at a time when Searcy's entire population was 600.

Here's another overglaze application over a tracery window. Unlike the Morrilton Baptist church window in the last post, this one utilizes all straight lines.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

1st Baptist, Morrilton

A Baptist church often looks like nothing other than a Baptist church.

The overglaze grid of aluminum and glass follows the lines of the wood tracery. There are a surprising number of overglaze application that ignore the window design altogether.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Blue, Hempstead County

Copyright 2008, from Abandoned Arkansas, by Jim King

You see the old church, and you think nothing of it. At first.

‘Did I see what I thought I saw?’ you say to yourself, and without thinking at all, you turn down the side street that leads to the parking lot.

Parking lot is a grand term for this field. No one has parked here for years.

No congregation, anyway.

The weeds brush your thighs as you walk across what was once a churchyard. You feel the soft sound and think, ‘Ahhh.’

What you saw, what drew you to it in the first place, isn’t the lines. It isn’t the Greek Revival austerity, the twin doorways, the perfectly preserved windows. It isn’t the massive belfry. It isn’t the wonderful location, set in the crook of the road, where you’d have to slow down just enough to want to visit the building.

What you saw was a wink of cobalt. A blue so intense, yet so elusive, that you had to know what made it happen.

And once alongside the church, you see.

God, but you want to be in there. (You chuckle at the inside joke. God indeed).

It’s not the draw of the church, and it’s not your desire to worship. You’ve been an atheist all your life, and the Christian Church holds nothing for you.

But this. Oh, this.

It’s the blue. It’s The Blue.

The windows are finely filigreed with lead and dark glass, and though some is of other colors, The Blue rules all.

You walk up to the one of the windows, and you see what made you come here.

The light comes from the windows on the other side, and though it comes from blue, and so loses much of its intensity, there is no doubt in your mind that the blue coming from the window colors your face. You feel it. You know it’s there. And the contentedness it projects makes you wonder.

Did the people inside experience this?

You feel bad for those that haven’t, and probably never will.

Some atheist you are.

from Jim's notes:
The church was in Columbus, in Hempstead County. A friend told me about Columbus, and I included it in my tour of southwest Arkansas, where I was nearly overwhelmed with the fecundity of abandonment. I’ve included no less than six stories inspired by stores, schools, homes, churches, storm cellars, and sheds from the town and its surrounds. Every window in the church was intact at the time of my visit in 2008. It was crushed by a falling tree (probably the one at the right of the photograph) six months after the shot was taken.

Abandoned Arkansas

I'm going to start working into this project some offerings from my brother, Jim King. They are photos and short works of fiction from his upcoming book, "Abandoned Arkansas." The book depicts houses, barns, stores and about anything with four (or fewer) walls. He sent me pictures of seven former churches, their accompanying stories and notes on each. Because in most cases we don't know the names of these former churches, I have substituted the story title. Anyone with information on the history of these buildings is encouraged to weigh in in the comments.

We'll start with..

Friday, May 8, 2009

All Souls, Scott

I have admired this church for a long time. It has got to be one of the most beautiful churches in Arkansas.

Built in 1906, All Souls was interdenominational before such a thing was popular.

When I came through about a month and a half ago, there was a very well attended picnic going on outside and the folks looked like they were having a grand old time. Not wanting to draw attention to myself, I came back a couple of weeks later to snap these pictures.

There's even a churchy tool shed out back.
church web site

Sunday, May 3, 2009

First Presbyterian, Dardanelle

Dardanelle's first Presbyterian church was built in 1856 and was burned by Federal troops during the Civil War. A second church was built to serve the community until 1914, when the current church was dedicated.

Raising the money needed to pay for the construction was a labor of love on behalf of the Ladies Missionary Society of First Presbyterian. The following is excerpted from "A Brief History of the First Presbyterian Church: 'The Church Built by Women.'"

"During the first year of this effort, the ladies gave each member a quarter dollar. Like the servants in the Bible, they were to invest this money 'in ways to make it multiply.' One woman bought a yard of calico and bought an apron which she sold for a dollar. Some ladies raised as much as $5.00. They held bake sales, sold manufacturers samples, and some rode the Ola train to Clarksville during peach picking season and added their wages to the building fund. Soon, the 'money-making ladies' had caught the fancy of the whole town and Dardanelle waited to see what they would do next.

"Some of the women were from 'the best families,' and had never worked at anything more strenuous than embroidery or flower arrangement, but when Calvin Batson, a prominent farmer and a member of the church, jokingly suggested that he would give them a job picking cotton, they donned sunbonnets and headed for the field. The business houses closed their doors for the day, and the men turned out in a body to watch them pick. They cheered the ladies on from their seats on split rail fences, while they leisurely ate their picnic dinners from lard buckets.

"Tom Grissom, the town photographer, made a photograph of the event, which appeared in in numerous state and national publications, and was even made into a postcard. It caught the eye of Fedinand T. Hopkins, a New York philanthropist, who subsequently sent a sizeable donation of money."

This beautiful stained glass window of an angel is dedicated to Mr. Hopkins.

"From the outset, the members were determined that the building be paid for at the time of its completion. The total cost was $8,978.57 and when the First Presbyterian Church... was dedicated on May 10th, 1914, there was just 83 cents left in the fund."

The brochure quoted was compiled by Betsy Snyder Harris, a woman I met a few weeks ago, whose spirit and enthusiasm for the church and Dardanelle's history is contagious. I spent a day there last week re-securing bracers bars to some of the windows and I consider it an honor to work on the oldest church building in Dardanelle. Thanks to Betsy and Pastor Kelly Pearson.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Emanuel Evangelical Lutheran, Stuttgart

This is one of two Lutheran churches in Stuttgart.