Cane Hill Presbyterian Church, State Highway 45, Canehill, Washington County, AR
1995 Charles E. Peterson Prize, Entry
Significance: The Cane Hill Presbyterian Church is located in the town of Cane Hill, Arkansas, some thirty miles southwest of Fayetteville. The town is cradled by the mountains of Cane Hill in a valley five miles wide by eight miles long. Some of the most prominent pioneers were the Cumberland Presbyterians who arrived as Cane Hill by way of Logan County Tennessee, under the direction of Jacob Pyeatte. With the arrival of the Presbyterians came the establishment of religion as a driving force in the community. Seeing the need for a more literate ministry to spread the gospel they founded the Cane Hill School, the first such institution to offer a two year degree in Northwest Arkansas. The school was later renamed Cane Hill College and offered a four year accredited degree. Despite being without railroad access the town prospered until the Civil War battle of Cane Hill which left the community decimated. In the Reconstruction years the town once again prospered in both agriculture and industry such a milling, blacksmith shops, wagon making, and general retail. However with the increased prominence of the railroad and the steady growth of Fayetteville as the county's seat and rail stop Cane Hill was unable to compete and began to decline. The Cane Hill Presbyterian Church is an exquisite example of country Gothic Revival architecture. Built in 1891 the church walls are two foot thick rough rectangular cut blocks of native sandstone with heavy timber roof construction and a rich wooden interior that covers the floor, wainscoat, and ceiling. The building is adorned with twelve stained glass windows, each depicting a Biblical scene, that fill the spaces with ambient light. The building consists of three spaces: a square bell tower/foyer, a small rectangular parlor, and a larger rectangular sanctuary, with an apse at the west end. There is also a raised platform at the west end of the sanctuary that houses the pulpit, altar, and the choir. All the wooden furnishings are original and handmade of native black walnut by a Mr. Hanks around 1893 including the pews and altar piece. Heat was provided to the sanctuary by two large pot-bellied stoves located at the front of the sanctuary, on both the right and the lefthand sides. Other features of the church are an engraved communion set from Tiffany's in New York and a box grand piano brought by ox cart from Fort Smith Arkansas after the Civil War. The piano is said to have been in a house about to be burned by Union troops. The lady who owned it begged the troops to spare the piano and they agreed on the condition she play them a song. She agreed and while the troops burned her house she plays "Dixie."
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N207
Survey number: HABS AR-49
Building/structure dates: 1891 Initial Construction