A lightning strike significantly altered the historic Allen Chapel.
The building was founded as an African Methodist Episcopal or AME church and has rested at 116 Elm St. at the edge of downtown Fort Worth since it opened in 1914.
Named after former slave turned bishop Richard Allen, the chapel is the home of Fort Worth’s oldest African American church and is one of the oldest in the state; the congregation predates the building and was established in 1870.
Lightning struck the building’s bell tower in 2011 and forced its removal.
The tower has yet to be replaced, and is one of the reasons the building lands at the top of Historic Fort Worth’s 2023 “Most Endangered Places” list.
The historic preservation nonprofit releases an annual list to raise awareness and rally support around buildings or historic sites that face redevelopment, vandalism or are at risk because of deferred maintenance or encroachment.
In spite of the Allen Chapel’s historic status both within the state and on the national register, the congregation lacks the funds to replace the bell tower and complete additional restoration projects.
Fort Worth Community Arts Center
The Fort Worth Community Arts Center, which sits at 1300 Gendy St. in the Cultural District, also made the endangered list for the first time.
Originally constructed in 1954 with later additions in both the ’60s and ’70s, the city-owned building is home to Arts Fort Worth and several other nonprofits, but is in need of more than $26 million in repairs.
Historic Fort Worth added the building to the list for the first time, citing issues with paid parking as a threat to the business plans of the building’s tenants.
“Paid parking ‘pays off’ the debt of newer buildings in the area which, in turn, puts the FWCAC and the nonprofits that use the building at risk,” Historic Fort Worth’s report stated.
Fort Worth ISD’s Farrington Field made the endangered list for the seventh time.
The storied stadium was completed in 1939 and is named in honor of the district’s longtime former athletic director E. S. Farrington.
The building, alongside the Jack Billingsley Field House are on prime pieces of real estate in the city, as development booms in the West 7th neighborhood and the Cultural District continues to be a hub of activity.
Historic Fort Worth lists the field house, the stadium and “any other building for sale by Fort Worth ISD” on its endangered list.
As the school district tries to balance its budget and sell off property, Historic Fort Worth is encouraging a designation to protect the historic status of the sites in any potential sales.
Waddy Russell Ross Home
One of the most prolific horse and mule traders in Mule Alley’s heyday, Waddy Russell Ross, was a self-made millionaire.
He moved to Fort Worth in 1905 and purchased three adjoining lots in 1917 and constructed his 5,000-square-foot home at 1352 Park St. in North Fort Worth.
At one time, the property boasted a stable, tack room and smokehouse.
The building is in need of several repairs to restore it to its former glory. But fittingly the carriage step that Mr. Ross’ family, friends and visitors likely stepped on when exiting their horse-drawn carriages, remains in place and still bears the name “W. R. Ross.”
Damage from the lightning strike kept the congregation out of the building for 15 months to remove the tower and address the immediate damage.
During that time, its membership continued to meet at a neighboring church.
The group was able to return to its building and continue to worship there until the COVID-19 pandemic put a temporary pause on its in-person services.
Pastor Sherryl Matlock said it was important for her to still see the congregation in person even if it meant standing in the yard delivering Sunday school materials or bringing communion cups to mailboxes.
But the building, with its pressed metal ceiling, oak wood paneling and seating, and pipe organ, is an important gathering space for the church’s ministry.
The age of the building and declining membership at Allen Chapel has made fundraising to restore the bell tower a challenge, the church’s steward pro-tem Luther Perry said.
“We learn how to do more with little,” he said. “God makes a way.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4 p.m. with additional information following the press conference.
Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.