2006 List

Centennial Baptist Church

Endangered List: Back To Main Page
City/County/Congressional District: Helena , Phillips County (District 1 )
Location Class: Church
Year Built: 1905
Historic Designation: National Register of Historic Places (1987) National Historic Landmark (2003)
Status: Endangered

Centennial Baptist Church in Helena was the “home base” of one of the most influential persons in the history of African-American religion in the country. Reverend Dr. Elias Camp Morris was the president of the National Baptist Convention, the largest African-American organization in the United States at the end of the 19th century, from 1895 to 1922. Designed in 1905 by Henry James Price, Centennial Baptist Church is the only known example in Arkansas of an African-American church designed by an African American architect. Centennial Baptist Church was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2003, the highest recognition of historic structures at the federal level.

Although work has been done to stabilize Centennial Baptist Church, the structure continues to be threatened by structural instability and exposure to vandalism. Work began to stabilize the structural trusses in 1998 but ended in 2003 due to budget shortfalls. The deterioration of these trusses has created cracks in the foundation and exposed the interiors, including the historic pews and 1908 pipe organ, to damage from the elements. Centennial Baptist Church is one of the most significant historic churches in Arkansas and its loss would be immeasurable.

For more recent photos, see the listing of Centennial Baptist Church on the 2019 Most Endangered Places list.