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Williford Methodist Church

The Williford Methodist Church, located near the northwestern intersection of Ferguson and Hail streets in Williford (Sharp County), was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 22, 1992. Located behind the wood-frame structure is a large cemetery, which is not included in the historic property.

When Jeremiah Baird settled near the Spring River in 1841, others soon followed. Within a short time, Williford was established. The community experienced slow growth until the construction of the railroad in the post–Civil War years. The town was incorporated in 1914.

The town’s congregations of various religious denominations shared the local schoolhouse for regular services. In 1910, the Methodist congregation initiated the raising of the town’s first church building. The church was constructed by volunteer labor under the direction of master carpenter Richard Beavers. Beavers also constructed a number of the houses in the town.

The rectangular, single-story wood-frame building is an excellent example of a vernacular interpretation of Gothic Revival style. Supported on a fieldstone foundation, the building has a total of twelve Gothic-style windows. Each side has four windows, one in the back and three in the front. The front door is bordered by a window on each side. Above the double entrance doors is a lancet window. The roof supports a small pyramid belfry. The interior of the building includes a beaded board ceiling, a raised pulpit, a raised choir platform, and two classrooms.

The small town saw its growth peak by the 1940s. By the 1960s, the population had dropped to less than 200. The Methodist church membership had dropped to such a level that the congregation could not support a full-time minister. Though the building was still used for funerals, regular church services ended in the 1960s. In 1979, the North Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church deeded the property to the Williford Cemetery Association. As of 2013, the building remains vacant.

For additional information:
Garner, Glenna. “Yesterday’s Williford.” Sharp County Journal 4 (April 1988): 1–56.

“Williford Methodist 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/SH0076.nr.pdf (accessed June 10, 2015).

Mike Polston
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture

Last Updated 6/10/2015

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