Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Highest Structure in the City in 1939

When entering Bossier City by way of the Texas Street bridge, and as you take the curve onto East Texas Street, you will see a beautiful three-story and basement, brick colonial building with white trim. The one with the maroon canopies adorning the stairs and entrances at the front of the building.
Photo By: Amy Robertson 04/30/2020
This eighty-year-old architectural gem of Bossier City is located at 329 East Texas Street at the corner of Third Street. It was built on lots that were donated to Ardis Memorial Baptist Church in 1903 by Dr. T. E. Schumpert, Col. R. G. Pleasant, and W. M. McCormick. However, during that time, the address was 325 Hunter Street.

Hunter Street became East Texas Street after a vote approving the name change took place during a Bossier City Council meeting on Mar. 7, 1933 which was presided over by Mayor Tom Hickman. During the time in which the Bossier side of the river was preparing the approach to the “new Red River bridge,” officially called the Long-Allen Bridge, perhaps better known as Texas Street Bridge. The decision to change Second Street East to Traffic Street was also voted on at that time.

In thirty years, the church had grown so much that the trustees began talks of building a new brick building. By 1934, the church announced in The Shreveport Times on Apr. 8, 1934, that a plan was accepted to construct “a $10,000 auditorium and later a $30,000 church plant to replace the frame structure occupied by the present frame structure.”

In 1935 Ardis Memorial Baptist Church was one of only three churches in the City, and in a newspaper article, that year, it was deemed “one of the big churches of the state.”

On May 11, 1937, another announcement appeared in The Shreveport Journal, stating that “A new $35,000 church will be erected by the congregation of Ardis Memorial Baptist Church in Bossier City.” Plans set in place in 1934 were finally beginning to materialize. At that time, the plans were for “The present auditorium and the present educational plant will be adjusted on the church property to make room for the new building.”

Designed by local architect, J. Chesire Peyton and constructed by contractor W. E. Keller, who was noted as having “built more Baptist churches in Louisiana than any other contractor” in the Apr. 3, 1938 issue of The Shreveport Times. Peyton and Keller designed and built the “highest structure in the city.”
Source: The Shreveport Times, April 2, 1939
It was completed on Feb. 1, 1939, by Ardis Memorial Baptist Church, which changed its name to First Baptist Bossier City and is the current home to Sunflower Missionary Baptist Church. The church held the dedication for the new building on Easter Sunday, Apr. 9, 1939.

In 1965 when the church decided to build a larger building down the road, the church property at 329 E. Texas St. was sold to the Twin Cities Missionary Baptist church. In the fall of 1967, the building went from Twin Cities Baptist Church to Faith Fellowship Baptist Church. In 1971 it went from being Faith Fellowship to Sunflower Missionary Baptist Church, which has occupied this beautiful brick colonial for fifty of the eighty years that it has existed (2021 marks their fiftieth year.)

Artis Memorial Baptist Church, C. 1903
Neil Yarborough Collection: 2006.034.004
The funds for the original framed structure were donated by Colonel C. H. Ardis, whom the church was initially named after. On the day the church was dedicated, J. Bryan Ardis read a letter from his father, Col. Ardis, which proclaimed, “This little church is donated to the trustees and all members who may join this church hereafter for all time to come and I trust the church will be ‘like a city set upon a hill, which cannot be hid,’ and that its influence for good will last as long as time lasts.”

I like to imagine that Col. Ardis would be proud to know what he and others began in 1903 has carried on through the test of time.

To see pictures of old churches and architectural buildings then visit our website,, to access the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center’s Collections Database with over 10,000 various images and plenty of Bossier Parish History to keep you entertained. You can also follow us, @BPLHistoryCenter, on Facebook to see posts with great pictures of Bossier Parish History.

By: Amy Robertson

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