Malvern, Arkansas
Founded in August, 1882

The Ouachita Presbytery appointed a committee that met in Malvern on August 12, 1882, for the purpose of organizing a Presbyterian Church.  The church still stands today, active and growing. There are about 106 members today (2016) compared to the sixteen charter members at its beginning.

For a number of years the church worshiped in a school building on the north side of town just off Page Avenue on what is now known as Gloster Street.  Later services were held in another school building on South Main Street. In 1888, the congregation erected its first permanent building on the southeast corner of Page Avenue and Main Streets.

Four men were outstanding in the early history of the church: Captain W. D. Leiper, Captain W. H. Cooper, Adalbert Strauss, and John W. Chidester.  Captain W. D. Leiper could be called the founding father of the church. He worked with Captain W. H. Cooper, who donated the land on which the church was built. The deed for that property dated October 8, 1878, was purchased from Iron Mountain Railroad for $10.00. Captain Cooper gave half of the land purchased to the Presbyterian Church and the other half to the Methodist Church. The third significant contributor to the church was Adalbert Strauss who had a love of the beautiful and was largely responsible for making the new building one of the most attractive little churches in the state at that time.

Captain Leiper


Captain Cooper

Adalbert Strauss

Two of the church’s members today are descendants of Adabert Strauss. They are J. A. (Tony) Strauss and his brother, Stephen Strauss who carry forward the tradition of their ancestor.  Other family members from that first group are Marjorie Cooper Nowalk and her sister, Betty Cooper Ingram. Evelyn Boyle Bryan has the earliest baptism date of any member and her descendant Betty Bryan Harrison is still on the current roll.


No history of this church would be complete without mention of John W. Chidester and his contribution to the church for more than half a century.  He joined in 1925 and in 1971 was honored by the congregation by electing him “Elder Emeritus”.  He is the only one to be so honored.  He was a member for 56 years, was a worker and a giver, both of himself and his possessions.  His life was an example by which all might strive to achieve.


History compiled and updated from the history written by Marie Gillespie Hill on the occasion of the church’s 100th anniversary in August of 1982.


First Presbyterian Church at Main Street & Page Ave

On the left, a portion of the First Methodist Church can be seen.

First Presbyterian Church at Ash Street & 3rd Street

First Presbyterian Church at 318 Ash Street

First Presbyterian Church at 707 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Contact Information


707 Martin Luther King Blvd

Malvern, Arkansas 72104

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(501) 337-7233



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