Christian Science in Eureka Springs
Christian Science was first introduced into Eureka Springs by Miss Lou Aldrich and Mrs. Laura E. Evans. Both had sought healing from the waters at Eureka Springs, but were not healed.
After years of suffering, Miss Aldrich heard about Christian Science, and in 1888 went to Chicago where she met Mrs. Ellen Brown Lindscott, C.S.D., a Christian Science practitioner, who healed her through Christian Science treatment.
Desiring to learn more about this Science which had healed her, Miss Aldrich applied for instruction from Mary Baker Eddy. She was accepted and received instruction from Mrs. Eddy in the Primary Class of September 17, 1888.
Very soon after completing this Class Instruction, and receiving the official title of C.S.B., Miss Aldrich returned to Eureka Springs in order to help friends that she had made in the Sanitarium here.
One of the first patients healed by Miss Aldrich was Mrs. Laura E. Evans. Mrs. Mamie Barkley Watkins, her husband, child, mother, and two sisters were also among those healed by Miss Aldrich.
The doctors of Eureka Springs brought legal action against Miss Aldrich and she was arrested and brought before a judge for “practicing healing without a medical license.” Mrs. Mamie Watkins’s husband was the attorney representing Miss Aldrich at the trial. He asked those present in the courtroom if any had been healed by this new “cult.” Almost the entire audience arose. he then asked those who had been healed by a doctor to rise, and no one stood up. In light of this response, the presiding judge dismissed the case.
Mrs. Laura Evans became a practitioner in 1891. She and Mrs. Mamie Watkins were among the charter members when First Church of Christ Scientist, Eureka Springs, Arkansas was formed on December 8, 1896.
Church services at that time were held in a rented building. In 1900 members started a fund to purchase land and build a church. In March 1902 a building lot was purchased at 68 West Mountain Street. On April 27, 1914 a special membership meeting was called and the plans for the new church were approved. Construction started in July 1914, but the first meeting in the new building did not take place until July 1915.
On March 6, 1930, two vacant lots adjacent to the building on the west side were purchased.
The depression and moving of the railroad offices from Eureka Springs to Harrison diminished the population of Eureka Springs. Many of those who moved away were members of the Christian Science Church, so formal church activity came to a standstill, but a few loyal followers led by Miss Kate Evans and Mrs. Inez Murphy continued to hold informal services. On May 2, 1943, another small group joined them and the organization became active once again.
The creation of Beaver Lake in the 1960s brought many new residents to the area, and the church expanded once again, continuing to be active until 2014.