Dallas Family Steps Up to Save Historic Addison Church Site

The White Rock Chapel is a small one-room church that sits at the border of Addison and Dallas. It's the only church in Addison, and it was in danger of becoming extinct until a Dallas family stepped in to save it.

"A developer was looking to purchase it and mow down the church and build two separate houses," said Donald Wesson, who first looked at the property last year. "Our ancestors are crying out for putting life back into this building, and that life will bring reconciliation and change to the world."

Wesson told his parents, Don and Wanda, about the chapel. Once they knew the history, they knew they had to buy it.

"We're not making any money on this, but we're committed to the spiritual investment," Don Wesson said. "God called us to this place, because I think everything is revealed in God's time and in God's plan," Wanda Wesson said.

The chapel sits on a state historic site. It was established 134 years ago, after freedmen purchased the property from the people who enslaved them, with the promise that the site would always be used for spiritual worship.

"My mother came from a Freedman's town in Denton, Texas," Donald Wesson said. "Knowing the history... is something that we wanted to hold onto."

The Wessons have been renovating the chapel for the last year. The exterior will be finished next week. They hope to make it a place of worship for people of all faiths and backgrounds. They point to the teaching of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"That the most segregated time in the U.S. was 11 o'clock on a Sunday," Don Wesson said. "Even in the faith community, we still operate in separate worlds and that is a shame."

The original chapel was wiped out by a flood. It was rebuilt and burned twice; once by the Ku Klux Klan, once under "suspicious circumstances." The Wessons hope its future is a space for racial reconciliation.

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