In 2013, JE Dunn Construction completed a 6,100-sq-ft historical adaptive reuse project to convert Houston's old Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, which was in service until a devastating fire in 2005, into a park.

Photo by G. Lyon Photography Inc.
Bethel Park

When construction began, all that physically remained of the building was the interior concrete floor and three walls without a roof to connect them. To keep the walls from collapsing, the remaining three sides of the building were restored and braced, while the missing roof was replaced with open web trusses to further reinforce the structure.

The construction team had to avoid damaging the existing brick given the fragility of the original walls while at the same time repairing the damaged brick. The team turned to a highly qualified subcontractor who specializes in historic masonry repair.

The project site was tight and the streets extremely narrow, as Bethel Park is located in Freedman's Town, which dates back to the late 1800s. It was difficult to navigate crew trucks and delivery vehicles through the streets to the site. Additionally, the area is densely filled with townhouses and upscale apartments, so construction work and delivery times had to be restricted to avoid disturbing residents.

Construction included removal of the exterior temporary stabilization bracing and installation of the interior permanent bracing as well as installation of new metal panels and poly-resin glass panels in the window openings and the south wall.

Close collaboration between civic leaders and project teams was critical to restoring Bethel Park. The team selected design and subcontractor firms that had prior restoration experience as well as specialists in such disciplines as historic preservation, archaeology and masonry restoration.

Key Players

General Contractor JE Dunn Construction, Houston

Owner Houston Parks and Recreation Dept.

Lead Design White Oak Studio, Houston