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New Home Church sits on Peach Orchard Road just south of Bella Vista (Benton County), on 1.7 acres now within the city limits of Bentonville (Benton County). A school was also once located on the property.
Benton County real estate records list the church property being transferred on November 21, 1896, from someone named Peterson to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the church was built shortly thereafter. At some point, the church came to be called the New Home United Methodist Church.
As described in the application for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, which was granted on January 28, 1988, the modest frame church building is a gabled rectangle, three window bays in length, entered by a double-leaf door. The building is without stylistic symbolism or ornamental details on the outside. The three windows on each side and two on the rear are four-over-four double hung. New Home is one of the few unaltered Ozark Vernacular one-room church or school buildings remaining in Benton County. The simple design reflects the early meeting houses typically constructed in conjunction with a cemetery.
In the decade following the church’s 100th anniversary celebration in 1996, the building was given a new foundation and then was completely restored both inside and out. Once the new foundation was in place, the rest of the work was done by local master craftsman Ben Bacon, who researched churches of that era and kept everything as close as possible to the original. When Bacon died unexpectedly in 2013, his wife asked that he be buried in the cemetery beside the church, since she knew he had so enjoyed his work on the church.
In the early 2000s, the small congregation launched a successful effort to obtain ownership of the property. In December 2005, the Methodist Church, for the sum of $1.00, transferred ownership by quit claim deed to the New Home Cemetery Association. The owner of record, again by quit claim deed, was changed to the New Home Church in April 2006. In 2016, the church was still being used for worship services one Sunday a month.
New Home School was assigned to District 19 and was one of the original tax-supported schools established in the 1800s by the Benton County Court. The exact date of construction is not known, but the county was levying millage for the district by 1883. Like the church built in the following decade directly across the road, the school had a plain and simple design.
The school building was no longer used as a school after the Bentonville School District consolidated the nearby rural schools in the 1930s and 1940s. It continued to be used as a meeting space for groups such as 4-H and extension clubs until it fell into disrepair and was eventually torn down, date unknown.
For additional information:“New Home School and Church.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/BE2177.nr.pdf (accessed September 13, 2016).
Xyta Lucas Bella Vista Historical Society
Last Updated 9/26/2016
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