To arrange an interior tour of the new monastery building, please call (479) 783-4147 by 5 PM and at least one day in advance.
St. Scholastica Monastery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its influence in the areas of Education, Architecture, and Religion. The original structure, designed by F.W. Redlich of Oklahoma City in 1923, is a 5-story buff-colored brick building, ornamented with Carthage and Bedford stone with a green clay tile roof. The design for this original wing was accomplished in a Gothic/Tudor Revival architectural style, with extensive treatments of all windows, including dormer windows with decorative cut stone accents. The basement exterior was finished in cut stone having a decorative cap band where brick veneer rises for 3 more stories, and with a cut-stone parapet to receive the clay tile roof.
The purchase in 1925 of an additional 28 acres adjacent to the old “Barnes Place” tract increased the site to a total 67 acres. In 1928, a second wing was added, including a chapel with a seating capacity of 300, and a gymnasium/auditorium. On the west end of this addition is a six-story tower that has two decorated style buttressed towers that rise nearly 7 stories, flanking an elaborate cut-stone Gothic-arched entry to the monastery. (Architectural details courtesy of National Register of Historic Places.)
The monastery welcomes visitors to tour the building and grounds, which offer guests many tranquil places for meditation and relaxation.
St. Scholastica Convent (called the Monastery since 1986) was officially founded January 23, 1879, in Shoal Creek. These pioneer Sisters cleared the sandy, rocky soil and could say honestly that they "lived by the sweat of their brow."
As young women began to join the Sisters in their log cabin, additions to the structure were made. By 1898 a quadrangular building surrounding a courtyard was completed, as well as several other buildings. The Sisters moved the motherhouse to Fort Smith in 1925 because of a number of difficulties: lack of water, isolation, poor roads, and inaccessibility to health care. The other option the Sisters had considered for a new motherhouse was Little Rock, the capital city. (The original quadrangular building at Shoal Creek, including the laundry, parish church, school, and rectory were all destroyed by fire November 20, 1940; the buildings spared were the Infirmary, Guest House, and one wing of the former St. Joseph's Academy then used as a chicken house. A few sisters were living at Shoal Creek at that time, but none were injured in the fire.)
Although Sisters in Europe were more contemplative communities, the pioneers in America at first had the primary ministry of educating the children of immigrants. The Arkansas Fort Smith Benedictines helped the Bishop fulfill the 1884 Council of Baltimore mandate to build a school in every place where he built a church.
Free Parking is available on site.