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St. Agnes Catholic Church

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1922. 203 8th St.
  • (Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, A Division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, Ralph Wilcox, photographer)

St. Agnes’s parish was formed soon after Mena was founded in 1896. The parish provided spiritual guidance to the European Catholic immigrant laborers working on the new railroad. The congregation’s first wooden church located downtown was replaced by this picturesque building of native stone. It fulfilled the vision of the Reverend A. P. Gallaher, a newly ordained priest appointed here in 1897, who dreamed of a “rough-hewn rustic church built from local boulders.” Reportedly, Gallaher drew the plans himself. The modest-sized edifice, measuring 85 × 50 feet, required a thousand wagonloads of rock from the surrounding hills. The Latin cross plan, with a clearly articulated nave, transept, and small apse, has its facade dominated by two square but differently sized towers. The Tudor-arched openings in the towers and their low, hovering tile roofs impart a simple, earthy Craftsman aesthetic. Except for the stained glass windows and the tawny brick surrounds of windows and doors, the exterior of this modest church is unornamented, and its resonance is due solely to the uncoursed, rough fieldstone walls that contain a myriad of earth tones and textures. The interior is simple, with off-white painted walls and plain wooden ceiling trusses, which allows the German-made colorful, figural stained glass windows to glow. Located in one of Mena’s residential districts, St. Agnes imparts a comfortable and welcoming aura, entirely appropriate for a neighborhood church.

Writing Credits

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


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Cyrus A. Sutherland with Gregory Herman, Claudia Shannon, Jean Sizemore Jeannie M. Whayne and Contributors, "St. Agnes Catholic Church", [Mena, Arkansas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Arkansas

Buildings of Arkansas, Cyrus A. Sutherland and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2018, 156-157.

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