Certified demolition through neglect for a listed church

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The City of Dallas Landmark Commission unanimously voted Monday to certify a “demolition-through-neglect” find for an Oak Cliff historic landmark.

The 107 year old Oak Cliff United Methodist Church on East Jefferson in South Marsalis has cracks in the outer walls, decaying masonry, a broken water distribution system and cracked window sills, according to a report from the city’s monument preservation office.

Representatives from this office visited the website on September 8th.

The sanctuary, education and youth buildings are all showing damage leading to water damage, according to a presentation by the director of monument preservation Murray Miller.

The sanctuary’s deteriorating color means that wood is exposed to the elements, Miller said. The education building has cracked walls, damaged window sills and wings, and crumbling parapets.

To be clear, demolition by neglect does not mean the building can be demolished. On the contrary, it is a conservation tool that enables the Historic Preservation Office to work with regulation enforcement to ask a historic property owner to carry out repairs.

Finding the demolition through neglect means that the monument protection and law enforcement agencies will draw up a list of the repairs needed. Once notified, the owners have 30 days to begin work. After that, checks are carried out every 30 days and owners can be fined for non-compliance.

Public records indicate that the Nayeb Group purchased the property in January 2020. The real estate company’s attorney appeared at the hearing, arguing that this was a breach of due process, but prosecutors disagreed.

“Any structure left to its own devices will collapse at some point,” said Miller, the director of the heritage site, at the meeting. “The purpose of maintenance is to prevent delayed maintenance.”

The church is part of the original Oak Cliff central business district and has been vacant since 2015 when the ward merged with the ward Tyler Street Church.


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