Monday, December 7, 2009

Smyrna Methodist, White County

The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program together with the White County Historical Society hosted a 'Walk Through History' tour at the Smyrna Church and Cemetery last Saturday.

The church, located 6 miles west of Searcy, is the oldest documented church building in Arkansas. Tree ring dating was used to determine 1857 as the date of construction, making it one of the state's handful of antebellum churches.

The church saw numerous changes over the years and efforts are underway to restore it to 1915 standards, the date of the building's earliest known photograph. A few modern conveniences such as a restroom, central heating & air, and a wheelchair ramp will be inconspicuously installed as well.

Gable ends, ridge cresting, and a bell-steeple are all newly added features that return the church to the way it looked after those Queen Anne-style elements were added in the 1890s.

An original scrolled gable end was on display.

The cemetery dates back to 1850s as well and features many names familiar to White County residents of today. There are a number of curious anonymous markers, too, such as this one.

Check out the AHPP website for the new 2010 Walk Through History schedule. The tours are well worth the drive. And folks in and around Little Rock will want to check out their Sandwiching in History tours.

Thanks to Rachel Silva of AHPP & Bill Leach of WCHS.

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