The light, antiquated signage gracing the entrance facade of the hulking brick constructing at 1012 N. Primary Avenue in Fort Price is innocuous sufficient. “ELLIS PECAN CO.,” it reads, harkening again to an earlier period of Texas’s booming business that revolves across the state’s solely commercially grown nut. (Fittingly, the headquarters of American Pecan Council are only a ten-minute drive away).
The decaying, long-vacant constructing’s former perform as pecan shelling and packaging warehouse wasn’t its first—and even its second—use, nevertheless. Earlier than the Ellis Pecan Firm took up residence in 1946, the historic construction served as a boxing ring and, within the late Nineteen Twenties, a bustling live performance corridor and venue for dance marathons. Previous to that, it was used as a warehouse by Leonard Brothers, a bygone Fort Price retail mainstay. However when one appears simply barely additional again, the constructing’s authentic, abhorrent function is revealed. In 1924, the constructing at 1012 N. Primary Avenue—then 1006 N. Primary Avenue—was constructed as considered one of only some purpose-built auditoriums for the Ku Klux Klan.
Though decimated by hearth not lengthy after its completion, the lodge was rebuilt and reopened in 1925 as a 2,000-seat auditorium to accommodate Fort Price’s sizable (the biggest within the U.S. on the time) KKK membership. At present, it’s considered the one still-standing constructing constructed by and for the KKK. Meant to intimate, the auditorium was one of many largest buildings within the metropolis and erected at an impossible-to-miss spot alongside a foremost thoroughfare linking downtown Fort Price to the town’s North Aspect, which was dwelling to Black, Hispanic, and immigrant communities.
The KKK didn’t final lengthy within the constructing (it was offered to Leonard Brothers in 1927), but the stain it has left on Fort Price is an everlasting one. The tip, nevertheless, is close to for Fort Price’s crumbling monument of hate—and it gained’t come through the wrecking ball.
In December 2021, a nonprofit coalition of native arts organizations and group teams referred to as Remodel 1012 N. Primary Avenue acquired the constructing in a transfer that marked a major milestone for a grassroots adaptive reuse scheme first initiated in 2018. The transformative redevelopment plan will see the decrepit construction—Remodel 1012 has described it as “a spatial manifestation of our nationwide legacy of violence and racial terror”—be transformed into an inclusive, multifaceted arts and tradition hub that serves as a “house of fact, reconciliation, and liberation for the nation.”
Dubbed the Fred Rouse Middle for Arts and Group Therapeutic, the proposed house is known as in reminiscence of Fred Rouse, a Black packinghouse butcher in Fort Price’s stockyards who was lynched by a white mob in 1921. Rouse was 33 years previous on the time of his homicide.
Late final yr, 100 years after his lynching, Fort Price’s first-ever public memorial to Rouse broke floor. When the cultural middle at 1012 Primary Avenue debut—an occasion deliberate for 2025 to coincide with the centenary of the opening of the present constructing—his reminiscence can be even additional ingrained into the material of the town.
The bold challenge, the recipient of a 2021 Subsequent Huge Concept Award from the City Land Institute of Dallas/Fort Price, remains to be within the early levels. Structural stabilization work to carry the constructing as much as code and additional group engagement classes are each unfolding this yr; additionally deliberate is the launch of each a capital marketing campaign and challenge architect solicitation course of. And thanks partially to multidisciplinary nonprofit structure studio MASS Design Group, a singular imaginative and prescient as to how the constructing can finest be reimagined has already been hatched.
Serving as considered one of Remodel 1012’s professional bono challenge companions (and a challenge funder via a Catalyst Grant), Boston-headquartered MASS Design Group helped to develop conceptual design renderings that think about a slew of latest potentialities for the constructing, which, regardless of its hateful origins, has nice bones; its sprawling 22,000-square-foot floorplate and expansive open inside renders it ripe for resuscitation, significantly as a programmatically numerous arts middle.
“We’re impressed by the potential of utilizing design to assist remodel a logo of hate into a logo of therapeutic,” Justin Brown, principal at MASS Design Group, informed AN.
The conceptual design section led by Mass Design Group yielded a beneficiant variety of deliberate makes use of for the longer term Fred Rouse Middle for Arts and Group Therapeutic, all of them meant to “return assets to the communities that suffered by the hands of the KKK and whose members proceed to be focused for systemic racism and oppression,” as Remodel 1012, which was invited to hitch the Worldwide Coalition of Websites of Conscience early this yr, defined it.
Proposed options embrace a state-of-the-art efficiency house, a useful resource middle for underserved and LGBTQ+ youth, an exhibition house “devoted to social justice and civil rights,” a makerspace and gear library, group assembly areas, inexpensive reside/workspaces for resident artists and entrepreneurs, and an outside city agricultural hub and pop-up occasion house. The Fred Rouse Middle for Arts and Group Therapeutic may also host intensive arts coaching and programming, per Remodel 1012.
“I envision a crossroads the place all of Fort Price can collect; the place each cultural group feels a way of belonging, of being seen, represented, and listened to; the place we have fun the richness of our particular person cultures freely and brazenly; and the place repairing previous hurt and injury results in larger respect and appreciation, creativity, and love—of self and each other,” stated Daniel Banks, Ph.D., Board Chair and Co-Founder/Co-Creative Director of Fort Price-based arts and repair nonprofit DNAWORKS.
DNAWORKS, which first conceived the idea in 2018 and moved to spare/remodel the demolition-bound constructing the next yr, is considered one of eight native organizations that comprise Remodel 1012’s Founding Board—a “pluricultural, shared management collective”—alongside the Opal Lee Basis, LGBTQ SAVES, SOL Ballet Folklórico, the Tarrant County Coalition for Peace and Justice, The Welman Undertaking, Window to Your World, and 1012 Youth Council.
Becoming a member of MASS Design Group on the roster of challenge companions, many AEC-related, are Put up L Group, JL Powers & Associates, The Initiatives Group, United Manner of Tarrant County, Fort Price Digicam Membership, Jaster-Quintanilla Structural Engineers, North Texas Roofing Contractors Affiliation, and Rone Engineering Companies, amongst others. (Extra companions could be considered right here.)
The checklist of challenge funders is equally intensive and contains the Tecovas Basis, the Ford Basis, the Mellon Basis, the Nationwide Endowment for the Arts, Atmos Power, and, as talked about, MASS Design Group. The capital marketing campaign set to launch this yr will present additional funding as will an anticipated $3 million from Home Appropriations Group Undertaking Funding. Final yr’s buy of the previous KKK auditorium was made potential by a “technology donation” from the constructing’s former proprietor and a grant from the Rainwater Charitable Basis.
The earlier proprietor, Sugarplumb Holdings LLC, acquired the constructing in 2004 as an funding property with plans to ultimately convert it to rehearsal studios for Texas Ballet Theatre. That plan by no means materialized and the constructing remained unoccupied, with the proprietor making use of for a certification of appropriateness for demolition in June 2019 as main redevelopment plans in instant space led by the Trinity River Imaginative and prescient Authority started to take maintain. Many members of the group supported the demolition scheme, which was in the end accredited by the Fort Price Historic & Cultural Landmarks Fee. The approval, nevertheless, got here with a six-month delay that offered time for various reuse schemes to be mentioned.
The estimated price of the Remodel 1012-led reimagining is $40 million.
AN will proceed to trace to progress of the Fred Rouse Middle for Arts and Group Therapeutic because the challenge continues to maneuver ahead within the coming months. Along with what’s in retailer for the remainder of this yr, additional down the road a challenge architect can be named, and the community-driven design planning course of will begin in 2023. Development work is slated to kick off in 2024 with the middle opening, as talked about, in 2025.