Collection: First Baptist Church Historical Hallway
Scanned by: Jon Walter
Established in 1889
First Baptist Church of Walnut Ridge was formed in the latter part of 1889, when a small group met in the home of Mrs. Rutha Rhea, widow of Moses Boling Rhea, and drew up a constitution. The December 19, 1889 edition of the Arkansas Gazette announced that a new Baptist Church had been formed at Walnut Ridge.
First Meeting Place built in 1894
For the first 5 years, the congregation met in the home of Rutha Rhea, but by early 1894 decided to build their first meeting house. The white frame building cost about $1,000 to build, with $500 being donated by Mrs. Rhea.
This first church was located at the corner of SW 2nd and West Elm Streets. Today, this would be the corner of Abbey Road and W. Elm, directly across the street from Adrianna’s Mexican Restaurant.
In the picture above, the front of the church is facing Elm Street. If you look closely to the left and behind the church, you can see a 2nd story window of the back of the Hotel Rhea. The Hotel Rhea was built in 1904, so this picture of the church was taken between 1904 and 1908, when the church building was destroyed by fire.
After the fire, a new church building was constructed a block south at SW 2nd and West Vine Streets.