|City/Town: • Mt. Ida|
|Location Class: • Church • School|
|Year Built: • 1905 | Year Abandoned: • 1965|
|Historic Designation: • National Register of Historic Places|
|Status: • Abandoned • Restored|
|Photojournalist: • Eddy Sisson|
When the Hovell family moved to his present home in 1905, the surrounding country was much more thickly populated than it is now. Nearly every 160 acres, now owned by the National Forest and by Dierks Lumber and Coal Co., had at least one if not more families living on it. Many lived on the area taken over by the Lake Ouachita too.
Christian services were a vital part of their lives. It was a very common practice for people to walk three miles regularly to attend Church and Sunday School services when the weather was at all favorable.
Services in this community were held in a school house. It was poorly suited for that use. It could not be at all adequately heated in cold weather. Light for night services was provided by two or three small kerosene lamps or by lanterns.
My father, W. I. Hovell, organized the people in the surrounding area into a band determined to build a local church. An uncle, Mr. J.E. Singleton, from Avon, Ill. was spending the winter at our home. He drew the plans and superintended the church’s construction. The work was done by the men of the community. A frame building 60 feet long and 30 feet wide was decided to construct. My parents donated the ground. The sills were hewed from available timber. One is a 12 in. by 12 in. extending the full length of one side. Shingles for the roof were split by S.J. McCullar and David Music. Of all who helped to build the church, only Ed Benson and Hovell are alive today.
The Church was dedicated May 17, 1908. The dedication sermon was preached by Dr. G.E. Cunningham, a Little Rock minister. The text was Luke 7:5 “For He so loved our people, He built them a synagogue.” He said it could be aptly paraphrased “For they so loved their people, they built for them a church”
Most of the homesteads were later sold to the Caddo River Limber Co. and the owners moved away. The Hovell moved to Norman, Ark. Services were not held at the church for several years. Hovell moved back in this area in 1929. While in Norman, he formed a warm friendship with Dr. John Barr and persuaded him to preach and organize a church here. It was organized and has operated since then.
After Dr. Barr’s retirement and death, Rev. David Harrison, Rev. George Wingard, and Mr. John Becton have served as pastors. Services and Sunday school are held every Sunday.
We, the residents of this area, take prid [sic] in our church as we believe Christian services are a necessary part of one’s life, and that everyone, especially children, should have ready access to them.
This church is a vital part of Hovell’s religious life. I was married there and have served as an Elder, Sunday School teacher, secretary and superintendent many years. Funeral services for both my parents, my brother and two brother-in-laws were held there. I assisted in the ordination of my father as an elder, and my older son Curtis as a deacon the same night. I have also assisted in baptisms of grandchildren and great grandchildren. Dr. John T. Barr served five generations of my family as a pastor there.
Leroy E. Hovell