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New Zion African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

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1927. Myrtle St. at Neely St.

The sparse history of this church indicates only that the original congregation of freed men and women was formed around 1880. The present property was purchased by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion educational fund in 1907, soon after which the first church, a frame structure, was erected. The builder and the architect of the present reddish brick rectangular church are unknown. The exterior features simplified Gothic and Romanesque Revival features, and the gabled facade is flanked by short, square castellated towers with round-arched upper openings. Steep concrete steps rise to the two round-arched entrance doors. The sanctuary occupies the entire main floor and is raised above a full basement utilized for educational and social activities. Interior features include a beaded-board ceiling, a balcony on the east end, and the pews and chancel railing. The present frosted glass windows replaced the plain glass ones in c. 1990. One of the most significant aspects of this church is the familiarity of its basic form. In rural southern Arkansas, a simple, unadorned white frame church with a gabled front section flanked by two identical short towers almost invariably indicates an African American congregation. The austerity of New Zion Church seems to owe more to economic constraints than to church doctrine, a reminder of the ubiquitous presence in the Jim Crow–era South of separate but unequal accommodations for African American citizens. The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church was formed in Philadelphia in 1820. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church, the second largest group, formed in New York in 1822. Both groups rapidly spread south and west. In Arkansas, by 1870, the AMEZ church had enough congregations to separate from its parent Tennessee conference and form its own state conference.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors
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Citation

Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors, "New Zion African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church", [Warren, Arkansas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/AR-01-BR3.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Arkansas

Buildings of Arkansas, Cyrus A. Sutherland and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018, 208-209.

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