HOUSTON - A church in Third Ward has been reduced to rubble, even as some residents were fighting to keep that from happening. They say a piece of Houston history has now been destroyed. Only the historical marker still stands there on Elgin at Hutchins where the Sixth Church of Christ Scientist once stood and many are asking if it was a historic site, how could it be torn down?
"This congregation was founded in Houston in 1914 and eventually they got a building (in 1941) and built, and as the cornerstone says it was during the time of segregation and Jim Crow, so it was the colored congregation," explains Houston resident Jim Newkirk.
Houston Resident Robert Jones’ relatives were some of the original members.
"My grandmother and grandfather were founders of a Christian Science Society that was in Fifth Ward in 1914."
Jones says the church, which was just torn down today, was built because there were many white Christian Science churches but due to segregation Houston Blacks could not attend.
"The various lectures they had were integrated, but you had to leave at the very end and I witnessed that as a young boy," Jones explains.
In 2016, a Harris County Historical Commission sign was erected outside the church, but according to the county, it's a subject marker describing the history but the sign did not give the building "protected" status from the state.
So residents who fought to keep the church from being destroyed have been told condominiums will now be built here.
"We’re screaming, because all of our old organizations, before we can re-gentrify them ourselves, they’re being demolished," says Houston Resident Willie J. Collins.
"We need to try to preserve our community," explains resident Eric McAdams.
The residents were able to save the church cornerstone and a time capsule full of books and documents found built inside a church wall.
"Anytime you have some rich history eliminated and it’s unnoticed, it’s a sad day," adds Newkirk.
Jones is also an attorney who worked on the sale of the land. He says they tried to find someone who would agree to preserve the church but couldn’t. Also, the county says the sign is protected and will remain on the site unless the builder is given special permission to have it removed.