Eastwood Church of the Redeemer Likely To Be Redeemed for Vacant Lot

The Episcopal church on the triangular block near the head of Telephone Rd. at Dallas and Eastwood is headed for demolition, according to information posted on its Facebook page. The congregation plans to vacate the Church of the Redeemer after a service on February 27th. A letter posted from senior warden Daniel Coleman declares the building “no longer safe to occupy”:

According to Tellepsen Construction and Studio Red Architects, the existing condition of the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems, the chunks of concrete separating and falling from our buildings (“spalling”), the lack of a fire alarm system, and the inadequacy of emergency exit signs and lights is more than enough to revoke our Certificate of Occupancy, if the Fire Marshall inspected the buildings. The cost of addressing just these issues would be $5 – 7 million. Neither our congregation nor our Diocese can afford that; and even if all those things were repaired, our congregation can no longer afford to maintain the building.

“The buildings will eventually be demolished, but we believe that the mural will be removed and preserved in the hope of future use,” adds a parishioner organizing a congregation “memory book.” Also likely to be saved, at least until the current contract expires: the bell tower, where T-mobile has a microwave relay. The original church on that site was built in 1920 as the Eastwood Community Church; Tellepsen was the contractor for its 1932 replacement. Additional structures were added in the forties and fifties, along with the sanctuary mural, called “Christ of the Workingman.”

Photo: Church of the Redeemer

16 Comment

  • It seems to me that the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob is well able to provide for the needs of His people. Caveat: His people that believe. 5 to 7 Million may seem an insurmountable mountain. I say, Give me that Mountain! Isn’t this a historical building? Isn’t this a church of believers? Isn’t this a project worth saving? Don’t give up. Never, never, never give up (quoting Winston Churchill) Keep hope alive!

  • I have always felt the Church of the Redeemer has clearly defined the heart of Eastwood in ways that few other neighborhood churches can. It has had a fair share of controversy, but I believe the good it has done and continues to do more than offsets it.

    Consider what would happen if the church were to be demolished and a new structure built in its place. Would the City allow it to be built with green space (where I collected Easter eggs as a kid) instead of a massive parking lot? Unlikely. Would the building be able to embrace the street like it does now, or would it be forced to maintain standard City setbacks? Almost definitely the latter.

    The Church of the Redeemer is an astonishingly urban church in a city that doesn’t do urban. I don’t know what would be worse: a new building built to current development standards, or a vacant lot. Neither will ever be able to anchor the community like the existing structure.

    This is an absolutely heartbreaking development, even to someone like me who has never officially been part of this congregation. I’ll try to keep hope alive, Steve, but I don’t know what can be done.

  • Glad I got to see it on the Eastwood Homes Tour last year. One interesting thing happened: the tours were being given by a woman and a teenage girl, both church members. Not sure if they were related, but they could have been a mom and her daughter. I wandered in and was offered a tour. I was by myself. The older woman sent me off into the basement and mechanical areas with this girl as a guide. On the one hand, it was nice not to automatically be considered a psycho, but on the other hand, the girl was about my own daughter’s age if not younger and no way in hell would I send my daughter off into the basement by herself with some stranger. Anyway, we went through several community rooms in the basement and just about the time I was thinking it was really strange, the older woman caught up with us, probably having come to her senses. The church has a very interesting history (see Julia Duin’s _Days of Fire and Glory_.) The sanctuary is spectacular if a little weird with the totally fluorescent lighting. Acoustically contoured “ribs” on the side walls impinge on the mural. My teenage tour guide said they were added when once-prominent Christian folk group The Fisherfolk made the church their home base for recording and rehearsing. There are several generations worth of congregation photos along a basement corridor.

  • Wow, what a slice of Houston history… one of the first mega-churches before they became fashionable. Now it pulls in people by the dozens instead of the hundreds. I guess the crowds motor to Lakewood. The buildings are interesting as well… using ordinary cast-in-place concrete to emulate traditional stone gothic masonry. Truly a cathedral of the working man, right down to the social-realist style mural.

  • Oh me gosh…. Me loves the little baby Jesus.. Me hope he isn’t hiding inside when they tear it down. Hims would be SCARED!!!


  • Oh, this is sad.

  • real bummer!..

  • Who is the artist who painted the large mural in the Sanctuary of the Church of the Redeemer?

    Fascinating title the mural has!

  • According to the Eastwood Civic Association, the mural “Christ and the Working Man” was painted by John William Orth in 1952. During the tour I described earlier in this thread, the guide said that the “working men” were modeled on Tellepsen construction workers and that one black man in the mural was the church’s longtime sexton.

  • This is really upsetting. I just learned they’re going to tear down the Church of the Redeemer. The land belongs to the Diocese. The Diocese is evidently unwilling to save the church building, but I’m guessing they’ll have no problem selling off the valuable real estate and pocketing the funds. My grandparents started attending church at Redeemer in the 1920s when it was still Eastwood Community Church. I grew up in Eastwood and we were church members there. My father attended there until he was too ill to do so in the 1990s.

  • @ marmer : interesting book you mentioned, wow what a read.

    Tellepsen planned the original sanctuary without windows to minimize air conditioning costs. The fluorescent lighting was added by Pulkingham, replacing the original dimmable neon lights. Apparently Tellepsen hated it.

  • I just 10 minutes ago read the news and am shocked! I was born in 1952, the year the current structure was built and the mural painted. In October, 1970, I visited for Sunday services and was struck by the eyes of Jesus in the mural seeming to follow me wherever I went in the sanctuary. I was also deeply moved by, I believe, the Holy Spirit in that service in such a way that changed my life. I was invited to lunch after services to a local “community” house where I experienced a love among fellow believers that also changed my life. Though many hard times came in later years to the Pulkinghams and community life, I will always cherish that one day I spent with those making up Redeemer’s fellowship at the time. Very sad to hear of the building’s impending demolition and I do hope the entire mural can be saved.

  • Place should have been torn down years ago when the abuse was discovered, its a crime people still call it a church ,it was a cult that ruined peoples lives. David Koresh and Charlie Manson would have fit right in.

  • I grew up attending The Church of Redeemer. I use to attend with my siblings, who would go with another family. My parents were lost, but the family who took us were loving and let us go over to their house. I wouldnt know much about our Father (GOD), if it wasnt for them or their church. We moved when I was only about 7, but we still found time to visit our old neighborhood & everytime we would pass by the Church, We would remmber “The Rock” it wasd for the teens and young children, we’d sing and learn about the Bible. I would have loved to get married at The Chruch of Redeemer… :( BUT it is a bulding & a building doesnt justify my faith or my Beliefs. It would be lovely if the building good be remodeled or built from the ground up!

  • My wedding was so beautiful in that church 59 years ago. My grandson recently said, “i know why you are still married. Jesus was there. He was inttigued by the mural at the alter.
    Dr. Hatris was an amazing priest but we left when Pulkungham came. He was not what we needed.