$2.5M Needed to Preserve Historic Central Christian Church

Westside Drive campus houses several ministries, busy dog park

A Park Cities Presbyterian church staff member is working to save the historic Central Christian Church at 4711 Westside Drive.

The congregation started in 1863 on the second floor of a downtown blacksmith’s shop and moved to its Westside Drive location in 1952.

“It’s a really strategic location for building bridges between people from a wide range of backgrounds,” said the church’s last pastor, Ken Crawford. “That’s what I love about the campus.”

Blake Schwarz, who serves as the director of faith and work at Park Cities Presbyterian Church, is leading an effort to raise $2.5 million by June 15 to preserve the Westside Drive campus.

Schwarz had raised about $1 million as of early May for saving what he calls “an estuary.”

“It is one of the few locations where people can walk without crossing a freeway from HP, Oak Lawn, a historically Black community to the north, and a historically Hispanic community to the west,” Schwarz said. “Genuine relationships can form (have formed) which is so desperately needed in our current cultural moment of division.”

Crawford said discussions about the future of the campus began before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Dallas last year.

“Like a lot of churches, this congregation had been declining in numbers and financial resources for decades,” he said. “There was an agreement that it wasn’t sustainable.”

The town of Highland Park proposed buying the property for $7 million to potentially develop the land into a park.

“The neighbors did say the preference would be for Blake to raise the money and all the life-changing work (on the campus to) continue,” Crawford said.  

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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