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Dallas Church Undergoes Asbestos Removal
A Dallas-area church that dates back to 1897 is undergoing asbestos removal and demolition. Workers at Ponce Contractors, the firm in charge of the demolition efforts at the Oak Cliff Christian Church in suburban Dallas, reported that the asbestos removal and remediation process should last until the first week of February. After the dangerous material has safely been removed from the premises, the work on tearing down the century-old structure can begin.
The site, purchased by the Dallas Independent School District last August, is slated to house an expansion of athletic facilities for nearby Adamson High School. Local activists, seeking to keep the church structure intact as a historical landmark, expressed dismay at seeing the initial efforts at taking down the long-standing structure. According to David Klempin, a longtime Oak Cliff resident, the church’s demolition would represent “a terrible loss” to the neighborhood.
In 1897, the congregation at the newly formed church selected the site and began holding services in a remodeled home. At that time, Oak Cliff was considered a small town, far away from the crowds and noise of nearby Dallas. The current structure was finished in 1916 and expanded in 1925 to meet the needs of the growing suburban population. When the church moved to a new building in 1962, the members agreed to sell the old building to the Revival Tabernacle Association, a Dallas-area non-profit organization.
For years, the church sat in a decaying neighborhood, its windows boarded and doors locked. At the time of its construction, workers used asbestos to insulate walls and pipes, as well as for fireproofing material. With the impending demolition, workers have had to use extra precautions to protect themselves from the hazards involved in handling loose asbestos-laced materials. Workers will typically wear breathing masks to insure that they do not inhale the fibers, as well as special coveralls that would prevent the fibers from attaching themselves to their clothing.
The news of the district’s plans to demolish the church came with as much surprise as it did with dismay for those in favor of attempting to preserve the site. Reverend Nita Allen, the current pastor of Oak Cliff Christian Church, said that “it’s going to be sad” for her and her congregation to see the old site demolished, although she recognized that “progress goes on”.
The fight for preservation over demolition also extends to the school itself. The main building on the Adamson High School campus was constructed in 1916, at nearly the same time as the nearby church. A bond issue passed last year allowed the school district to build a new school, which was the reason behind the district’s purchase of the church site.
A disagreement between school board members and prominent school alumni flared when the district announced plans to tear down much of the existing structure rather than modernize and remodel. With the plans for the new school still uncertain, no move has been made to investigate the presence or concentrations of asbestos at the current school site.