Oak Cliff News

Oak Cliff school's new campus pleases neighborhood and preservationists

Oak Cliff school's new campus pleases neighbors and preservationists

Calvary Church
Former church is nearly a century old. Google Maps

A grammar school in Oak Cliff is relocating its campus to a vintage building. The Kessler School, a pre-K through 8th grade private school in North Oak Cliff, is going into the building at 1822 W. 10th St. in Dallas that was formerly home to Calvary Baptist Church of Oak Cliff.

According to a release, the school expects to begin operating at the new campus in Fall 2021.

Vanessa Ullmann, whose title is "Head of School," says in a statement that the new location will pave the way for The Kessler School's continued growth.

The school currently leases approximately 12,000 square feet at the Kessler Park United Methodist Church. The former Calvary Baptist Church is located in the Sunset Hill neighborhood, and offers more than 60,000 square feet across two acres. Much bigger.

"The increased square footage — more than five times what we have now — will also allow us to add more students and expand our programming significantly for future generations of TKS Owls," Ullmann says.

The school first put the building under contract in August 2019. Their plans include:

  • restore the original neoclassical architecture
  • update interior spaces to better allow for personalized education and technology
  • repurpose the current sanctuary into a gymnasium/multi-use performance space
  • add sports fields, playgrounds and other landscaped outdoor spaces

The church was built in 1924, followed by the addition of an educational annex in 1953. In the 1960s, the sanctuary was modernized with the addition of a brise soleil facade, made of those mid-century-modern peeky-boo bricks, known as "breeze block bricks" aka "screen block bricks," to cover the neoclassical columns.

Alas, they are talking about removing the brise soleil facade. Maybe someone can salvage those peeky-boo bricks.

Eliza Solender of Solender/Hall represented The Kessler School, working with Roosevelt Broach of Church Realty, Inc., which specializes in the sale of churches and schools. Repurposing old spaces and helping groups and schools find new spaces is Solender's specialty.

"The Kessler School had to be in a specific geographic area, needed more space — both indoors and outdoors — to be able to increase enrollment and expand programs," Solender says in a statement. "When we walked into this historic church, we knew it was the perfect place."

Cooper Koch, president of the school's boad of trustees, says that the response from the Sunset Hill neighborhood as well as preservationists has been "overwhelmingly positive."

"We look forward to reactivating these gorgeous old buildings while continuing to grow The Kessler School as an asset and contributor to North Oak Cliff’s success," Koch says.