Mayor Annise Parker, Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #14/Fourth Ward Redevelopment Authority and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department will celebrate the grand opening of Houston’s newest historic site, Bethel Park (801 Andrews, 77019), on Saturday, December 14, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. The $4.2 million project preserves the history and architecture of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church while creating a new park in Houston’s Fourth Ward.

“Bethel Park has risen from the ashes created by a fire in 2005 to forever memorialize the historic significance the Fourth Ward plays in Houston’s history,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “This park and the preservation of Reverend Jack Yates’ church will continue to inspire visitors through a unique open space that celebrates and preserves Freedmen’s Town history.”

Funding for this project was provided by the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #14/Fourth Ward Redevelopment Authority and the City of Houston. 

“The Fourth Ward Redevelopment Authority had a moral obligation to the Freedmen’s Town community to exhaust its efforts to save this structure. History can never be lost as long as the story is able to be told,” said Jackie Bostic, Chair, Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #14/Fourth Ward Redevelopment Authority.  “The historic preservation effort in repurposing Bethel Church into Bethel Park has become the anchoring symbol of the resilience of the African American community not only in the City of Houston, but in Freedmen’s Towns throughout the United States.”

Bethel Missionary Baptist Church was founded in the Nineteenth Century by Reverend Jack Yates, an early leader of Houston’s African American community.  Located in Freedmen’s Town, a post-Civil War Houston neighborhood founded by freed slaves, the church had three sanctuaries on the same site, with the earliest constructed in the 1890’s.