Park Spotlight: Bethel Church Park

Photo courtesy of the Houston Parks Board

In our Park Spotlight series, we take a closer look at Houston’s vast array of public recreational areas to shine a light on hidden and not so hidden gems. This week we’ll be spotlighting Bethel Church Park. Join us as we take a trip through Houston, park by park.

Located on the outskirts of Downtown near historic Freedmen’s Town, the half-acre Bethel Church Park represents a commitment by area residents to rescue a historic site before it fell into irreversible decline.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Bethel Baptist Church was founded by freed slaves in the 1890s and became a central element in the thriving African American Houston neighborhood called Freedmen’s Town.

Devastated by fire in 2005, with only the interior concrete floor, concrete support columns, and four walls surviving, the City of Houston purchased the property in 2009 and installed temporary bracing to stabilize the roofless structure for conversion to park use.

Photo courtesy of the Houston Parks Board

Bethel Church Park Features

The fully overhauled indoor/outdoor park features seating reminiscent of church pews, stained glass panels highlighting the church’s history, window openings that allow ample daylight, decorative fencing to secure the site while welcoming visitors, and beautiful grass landscaping throughout the area.

In an area where gentrification is fast changing the original personality of a historic neighborhood, the park provides much-needed inner-city park space, a museum-like educational experience, and a strong visual link to a proud past many current and future residents would otherwise never discover.

Bethel Church Park in Freedmen’s Town

Photo courtesy of the Houston Parks Board
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Cody Swann is a writer and musician born and raised in Houston. When he isn't recording or touring the country with his band, Wild Moccasins, he can be found covering live music and arts events for 365 Things to Do in Houston.