NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The Nacogdoches County Historical Foundation's commitment to the historic Zion Hill Baptist Church continues. In less than in a month, the Nacogdoches Heritage Festival will raise more money to go towards the ongoing restoration of the first organized Baptist church for the African-American community.
The Zion Hill Baptist Church, tucked away in the Nacogdoches historic district, was erected just over 100 years ago. The Nacogdoches County Historical Foundation, led by its president Nancy Collins, is making sure the historic landmark is around for another century.
"Once the foundation starts a project, we don't leave until it's completed," said Nancy Collins, the president of the Nacogdoches County Historical Foundation.
The significant commitment began about 15 years ago. The church was literally rotting away.
"The pictures here just seemed like it was yesterday," Collins said.
Several years ago, the foundation turned the keys over to the city of Nacogdoches. Recent restoration isn't quite as visible, but it's happening as a remaining $300,000 is being raised to complete further restoration.
"It's a little harder to see when we're working behind the scenes and getting master plans done and doing designs on the inside, but we are still working very, very hard," said Jessica Sowell, Nacogdoches' assistant historic sites manager.
The Foundation is so confident the church will one day be a museum of African-American heritage and an event venue that it recently purchased and gave to the city a nearby vacant lot.
"The land behind me is an invaluable piece to the church master plan," Sowell said.
The city will use the land to create parking for the church.
Historians know the public will want to see Zion Hill in all its glory, starting with the stained glass windows, the wood beading, the spacious balcony, and the unique baptismal pool.
"There's water lines from baptisms," Collins said. "This one is the one that stands out the most."
Eventually, perhaps after a few years, the entire church will stand out too.
"It's going to be gorgeous," Collins said..
The Nacogdoches County Heritage Festival, a fundraiser of the Historical Foundation, is from June 11 to June 13. The Taste of Nacogdoches, Heritage Breakfast, Coronation, and Ball are among the activities. Donations to the Nacogdoches County Historical Foundation donations can be made at any time.
For more information on the Nacogdoches Historical Foundation, visit this link.