Friday is the official groundbreaking ceremony for the Fourth Ward’s new Bethel Church Park — though an eagle-eyed Swamplot reader noted workers from contractor JE Dunn getting a jump on things at the site of the former Bethel Missionary Baptist Church at Andrews St. and Crosby earlier this month. The Freedman’s Town church in the shadows of Downtown, portions of which date from 1923, was largely destroyed by fire in January 2005 after several years of sitting vacant. Its shored-up walls have stood mostly undisturbed since then.
The city bought the site in 2009, using funds from the Fourth Ward Redevelopment Authority, also known as TIRZ No. 14. Three sides of the building’s brick exterior will stick around for the new park taking over the site, also funded by the TIRZ. The walls will be restored and braced more carefully, but the back wall will be taken out, allowing visitors to sit on pew-like benches inside the former sanctuary, or make a break for the back lawn without disturbing others congregating inside.
Construction work is scheduled to be complete by next March.
- Bethel Park [White Oak Studio]
- Previously on Swamplot: Rumblings Around the Fourth Ward’s Bethel Missionary Baptist Church
Renderings: White Oak Studio/PGAL