A 145-year-old piece of Springdale and Northwest Arkansas history will soon come back to life, thanks in part to a Walton Family Foundation grant which completes a $1 million fundraising campaign.
"The 1871 Shiloh Meeting Hall in Springdale is one of the oldest and most significant buildings in Northwest Arkansas," according to Allyn Lord, director of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. "Following rehabilitation, the Hall will become a place to gather, a place to learn, and a place dedicated to the history and the future of Springdale and Northwest Arkansas."
When work is complete, the building's first floor will be a meeting space for the museum's education department, up to a dozen history-related groups, and the public. "With as many as eighty seats, the first floor will provide a much-needed mid-sized meeting place for downtown Springdale, which is quickly becoming a go-to destination, especially since the completion of the Razorback Regional Greenway which runs by the building," Lord pointed out.
The second floor will become an exhibit hall, interpreting the history of the building and its many occupants over the years. "That portion of the building's rehabilitation will be concluded in 2019-20, in time for the 150th anniversary of the building in 2021," said Lord.
The Shiloh Meeting Hall has been a meeting place for three churches, the local Masonic lodge, the Women's Civic Club, and the New Era Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and their allied women's organization, Rebekah Lodge 28. "Today it draws attention to Springdale's vibrant past while standing as a testament to the enduring values of faith, service, and community," Lord explained.
The building was donated in 2005 to the Shiloh Museum, a department of the City of Springdale, by Springdale's Odd Fellows Lodge, conditional upon its renovation. Rehabilitation of the Hall's exterior, roof, chimney, and belfry was completed in 2009 after raising nearly $200,000.
In July 2015 the Shiloh Museum launched the "Overhaul the Hall!" $1 million fundraising campaign to complete the building and prepare it for use. Towards that goal, the museum has received $500,000 from the City of Springdale and an additional $244,327 has been raised through donations and matching gifts from the Endeavor Foundation. The Walton Family Foundation grant of $255,673 completes the $1 million cost of the project.
Interior renovations on the building will be completed within the month, with work on landscaping, signs, lighting, and parking to begin shortly thereafter. The Walton Family Foundation's gift allows the museum to precede immediately with the property improvements.
"We hope to be able to open the newly renovated Shiloh Meeting Hall to the public by the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018 at the latest," said Lord. "Expect to see and hear news of celebratory events and tours at that time."
Shiloh Meeting Hall in 2008, before renovation began.