Set on a corner site on a low terrace, this two-story red brick church with white trim featuers crisp lines that make it especially attractive. The church’s African American congregation, which was organized in 1883, moved from their first church two blocks away on Laurel Street to this newly constructed building. The church, constructed by builder T. L. Bentley, has a hipped roof with intersecting gables, which have prominent cornice returns, a small gabled portico with decorative brick detailing brick piers, and double-leaf doors surmounted by an arched transom window. On the side are large round-arched windows divided into pointed lights by curved wooden muntins. All windows are frosted. The plain interior, with a rear gallery and a pulpit placed in front of a baptistery set within an arch, is unaltered, except for the pews.
During segregation small southern towns had thriving African American neighborhoods, with commercial and cultural institutions of all kinds, and the Laurel Street neighborhood surrounding this church was just such a place. Some of Texarkana’s leading African American citizens lived here and attended this church, including family members of musician Scott Joplin. Another landmark institution in this neighborhood is the former Orr School, constructed in 1880 at 831 Laurel, which contained grades one through nine. Now a typical rectangular one-story traditional school building with large banks of windows on each side, it was drastically remodeled in 1920 when the second story was removed. Orr School is the only extant building in Texarkana that can be associated with any degree of certainty with Scott Joplin. He is thought to have attended school here before leaving the city in 1885 at the age of seventeen. The school has served a variety of functions since its purchase in 1958 by the City Federation of Women’s Clubs.