Old Sweethome Church and School

44
City/Town: Mt. Ida
Location Class: SchoolChurch
Year Built: 1905
Year Abandoned: 1965
Status: AbandonedRestored National Register of Historic Places
Photographer: Eddy Sisson

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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”

10010445_10152154987917983_4694022251071271388_oJust previous to the dedication, Leroy E. Hovell Sr. and Kathleen Jackson were married in the Church. Later, Dr. J.R. Woods was pastor of the church for many years.  He later moved to Mena, Ark.

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

1965

44 Comments

  1. Charles W. Jackson on

    My name is Charles Jackson, I was born in 1949 ( now 68 years old ). My family on my dad's side lived about 1 mile east of the church on Sweet Home Rd. My great grand father David Louis Jackson , built the house ( torn down 1975 ). My grand father Charles Compton Jackson and wife Ella Edwards Jackson had10 kids all of which have died now. Kay Gray now lives on the home site. While I was a young boy my family ( dad was Charles Louis Jackson ) came to my grand-pa's house for years. My mother lived at the home site while my dad was gone to WWII and attended Sweet Home Church. We grew up in Hot Springs so when coming to Grand-pa's house my mom and I attended the church several times . I remember Sunday school there. Dr. John Barr, I understand was the pastor there at one time. He came to a Presbyterian church about a block from my house in Hot Springs and my Mother took my smaller brother, probably months old, to the church and Dr. Barr sprinkle Baptized him. Sweet Home Church has a special place in my life and I really appreciate your efforts to refurbish the building.

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    • Karen Hamilton on

      Sorry Kristen for not replying sooner. I don't monitor this page but I do the Old Sweet Home Society page on Facebook. We have been in the process of remodeling so hopefully in the future we will be able to have weddings. Probably doesn't help you but just thought I would let you know.

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  10. My huband and I have passed this old church many times and we wondered about its history. Thanks for sharing.

  11. This is about a mile away from my Pawie's house. He recently passed away. It's kinda cool that you posted this! Thanks

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