Photos by Jeffrey Liles

At the Corner of Preston and Spring Valley Roads, What Remains of Mount Pisgah Baptist

Mount Pisgah Baptist

built its first church at

the corner of what's now Preston and Spring Valley

in the late 1800s; the structure that sits there now is a rebuild that dates back to 1945. But in 1981 the church bought property on Webb Chapel near Forest, a stone's throw from Two Guys from Italy, and relocated. Others attempted to use the space, but a year ago it went on the market; the Realtors marketing the property say this morning that, more than likely, its best hope is for someone to buy it, raze it and turn it into an "office condo" complex.

Every time I've driven past it I've wondered about the structure -- how it got there and how, despite the development all around it, it managed to survive. So too has Jeff Liles, who grew up not far from Mount Pisgah. Which is why, yesterday, when he drove past it and noticed that the door was open, he went in and took some pictures -- and wrote a brief essay, which you'll find on the other side.

Growing up in Far North Dallas, I often drove by this small African-American church at the corner of Preston Road and Spring Valley Road. On Sunday mornings my family would drive to Valley View Mall and take the shuttle buses to the Cowboys games at Texas Stadium, and I can remember often seeing the congregation filing out of the front doors of this church, everyone dressed so nice in their suits and wonderful hats.

For years -- decades, really -- the area around the tiny building had been developed into large gated communities. The value of this property skyrocketed, but the congregation held on. On Thursday I drove past and noticed the front door standing wide open. I pulled over and stepped inside. It was heartbreaking to see old dirty clothes strewn in the aisles and empty crack vials littering the pews. This building apparently never had central heating or air, and the furniture in the front office space was rotting and decayed. The congregation, for whatever reason, had given up their home.

It was sad to see this structure, which for so many years had been the one building in the area that still had held its ground against the concrete walls and barriers surrounding it, now that much closer to demolition. Also hard to imagine that in all of that time, I was only now seeing what this building looked like on the inside. -- Jeffrey Liles

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