Polk County Local News


Historical Painting escapes damage at Polk County Library, books salvaged.

By Andy Philpot, Editor of THE MENA STAR.


With the intense damage suffered by the Polk County Library during a direct hit from the tornado, a reopen date is still undetermined, but there have been a majority of the items spared that were in the damaged wing of the building.


Among the items that went undamaged included the classic painting of “Amsterdam Cupids”, which was originally painted in 1896 by H.A. Pothast.


The painting was sent to Mena in October 1896 by Mrs. Mina DeGoeijen to show her appreciation for having the town named after her.  The painting arrived to the area in 1897, and has been displayed in the Polk County Libaray for many years.


The painting, which was restored in 2002, escaped disaster, and will continue to be displayed in the library once it is reopened.


With the portion of the roof that collapsed in, along with insulation and glass, the wing of the library was a disaster, resulting in a loss of an aged original card catalog and the carpeting.


After a clean-up crew consisting of 16 members spent three days tending to the mess, the total loss of library items was considerably low.  After the rows and rows of books had been evaluated, it resulted in approximately 30-40, filling two boxes that were considered a loss.


Considering the amount of damage and debris within that wing of the building, the count on book loss could have been much higher.


Other areas of concern that did not suffer significant damage or loss were the microfilm machines, as well as the genealogy equipment.


The library remains closed until further notice, while the drop box will continue to be available to return checked out books.




Published in The Polk County Pulse May 13, 2009

The Polk County Pulse is a publication of D & L Publishing, Co., locally owned and operated by LeAnn Dilbeck. The Polk County Pulse is the area’s premiers and fastest growing news publication.The Pulse is FREE and published weekly on Wednesday.LeAnn Dilbeck has graciously given her permission to reprint articles concerning History and Genealogy.


The April 9 tornado that took so much from Mena and surrounding areas also destroyed the Masonic Lodge on Hamilton and Reine Streets, which represents one of the oldest organizations in Polk County.  The Lodge’s history is rich in detail, and Lodge Member James Earl Turner offered some insight.


On October 1858, a group of men met in the town of Dallas with the intent of forming a Masonic Lodge.  On November 3, 1858 the Grand Lodge of Arkansas issued a charter for Dallas Lodge #128 to hold Masonic work.  During the early days the lodge met over a church and was very active in their work.


In August of 1896 the first passenger train came to the new tent town that had been named Mena located a few miles north of the county seat of Dallas.  The lodge soon abandoned their location in Dallas and made the move to the new City of Mena where they met in several locations before being offered the opportunity to add a third floor to the Jackson Drug store on Mena Street.  This building is located across from the Ouachita Little Theater.  They accepted this offer and met for the first time in the new third floor lodge hall on April 4, 1908.  The lodge did not have electricity until 1932.


The lodge remained at the Mena street location until 1963 when the new lodge was erected at the corner of Hamilton and Reine streets.  This move was brought about in part by an incident that happened in the old lodge hall.  A brother who was attending lodge to receive his 50 year recognition had a heart attack while climbing the steep stairs to the lodge room and thus, the decision to erect a one story building.  The new building was dedicated in June of 1981 after the loan that had been obtained to finance the new building had been paid off.


During the last 30 years the membership of Dallas Lodge as well as Masonry in general has been declining.  But during the last few years there has been a resurgence of interest at least at Dallas Lodge and again it has a group of new Master Masons to carry this ancient order into the future.


“Sadly on April 9, 2009 the Lodge Hall at Hamilton and Reine streets was destroyed during the meeting of the Order of the Eastern Star by an EF3 tornado causing the loss of one life and several injuries.”  Turner said, “This leaves only the memories of the building that we all were so proud of in 1963 when it was built.  But the organization plans to rebuild and donations for the Reconstruction of the Masonic Temple may be made to Dallas Lodge #128 F&AM.”