December 2, 2013 by wcobserver
West Fork,Arkansas, Monday,Noon, December 2, 2013.
The Friends of the West Fork Library, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping support the municipal library took title to their new home at a signing event at Arvest Bank.
Acquisition of the First Christian Church by the Friends of the West Fork Library
In August of 2013, Wanda and Ken Miller, elders of the First Christian Church, offered ownership of the church to the West Fork Friends of the Library. Mr. Miller told the Friends about how the congregation of the church has dwindled and they can’t keep it open any longer. It is the oldest church in WF and its history is important. The land for the church was donated in 1907 by the Bell family. The Elders of the Church have offered it to us for a quick claim deed which should cost the Friends less than $100.00. In 1907 the title of the church stated that if the land is not used for religious purposes it should revert back to the Bell family. The Millers want to see the church benefit the community and remain a vibrant and important building. If The Friends owned the building it would be open for bible study and fulfill the terms of the title. The building was offered to the City of West Fork but the City Council voted not to take it because the City Council had objections to the amount it would cost to make the building handicap accessible, to repair the plumbing, the expense of an old building that they weren’t sure what it would be used for and because they didn’t have enough information regarding the title. If we accepted this generous offer we could apply for a Quiet Title after seven years. A judge would make the decision.
The church was incorporated in 1837 and the building was built in 1907. It is the oldest church in West Fork. Many people in West Fork have memories of worshiping and playing in this building. My neighbor tells me that it was the hardest church in West Fork to carry a coffin out of. The door has since been widened.
The church has beautiful wood floors, a kitchen, a relatively new heating and air conditioning system as well as three gas stoves for heat when the power is out, an upstairs, several closets, and is cozy and welcoming, a truly beautiful space. There are two bathrooms and two alcove areas in the back of the church. It is very well taken care of.
The Friends membership was polled and a vote was taken to change the bylaws of the Friends of the Library to allow us to own the building and a decision was made on November 15, 2013 to accept the building from the Millers. At the time that we voted we also asked our membership to pledge money to support the building. About $6,000.00 was pledged. We are going to use the building to benefit the library. We will help our library with its storage issues, library programs will be held there, we may have an ongoing book sale, and it might serve as a reading room with magazines and newspapers, coffee and “visiting”. We will consider putting a museum in the large alcove to the right of the stairs. In the future we would possible entertain some of the following ideas: a center for non-profits, a teen center, after school tutoring, classes, piano lessons, meeting room, community theatre, stage for musical productions, senior center bingo and cards and dominoes, pot lucks, art exhibits and so much more. We plan to put up an awning with benches and vending machines and picnic tables outside. Of course it will have wi-fi. We feel that owning and caring for this beautiful old building will enhance our community in many ways.
Patricia A. Baker
Co-President, West Fork Friends of the Library