SALINE COUNTY, Ark. (KTHV) – The 170-year-old Rowland-Lenz House on Highway 5 in Benton is oldest surviving structure in Saline County, but it might not be for long. The house is in bad shape and falling apart, but a non -profit organization is hoping to raise enough money to bring it back to life.
“It's almost getting ready to fall down,” explained Grover Smith of Benton.
To those driving by, it's the eyesore on Highway 5.
“Most people refer to it as ‘That haunted house,’” added Saline County Preservation Board Member, Anthony Rushing.
However, behind the boarded windows and broken glass, there's history waiting to be told.
“It sort of put roots in Benton to me. I didn't know that until I moved here in 1974,” said Smith.
The historic Rowland-Lenz House was originally built in 1838 as a two-room dogtrot style log cabin. Over the years, it has seen many occupants, including Grover Smith's late grandfather.
“My grandfather, Grover B. Smith was born in this house in 1884,” said Smith. “Over a period of 170-180 years there has been about five different families that have owned this house.”
Since the early 1990s, the house has sat vacant. It's suffered damage over the years from storms and vandals, but the hope is it can one day be restored to its former glory.
“Weather and time does its thing on old houses,” said Rushing.
Anthony Rushing is part of Saline County Preservation, Inc., a newly created non-profit dedicated to restoring historic homes. The first big project on the list is to preserve the Rowland-Lenz House.
“Right now, we've applied for a grant with Arkansas Historic Preservation—a $30,000 grant—and we have to match that with $10,000, which is what our big goal is right now,” said Rushing. “This first grant is just to stabilize it, not to restore it yet.”
The goal is to not only to bring the home back to life, but to educate people on its history.
“It will be used for education, schools, teachers [and] groups can use it, private functions, whatever anybody desires to use it for,” said Rushing.
The organization’s hope is that the home can continue share its story for another 180 years to come.
“I like old houses. I like history, and since I am part of it, that gives me a desire to see it looking better than its looking now,” said Smith.
Saline County Preservation is holding a fundraiser on Sat., April 2 at Abe’s Old Feed House in Benton from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
There is also a Go Fund Me page set up to raise the money needed for the grant. You can find it here: https://www.gofundme.com/Rowland-Lenzhouse
For more information about the history of the Rowland-Lenz House and photos, visit Save the Rowland/Lenz House: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1643594405906387/ and Saline County Preservation, Inc.: https://www.facebook.com/SalineCountyPrevervation/