The imposing, dilapidated brick building on Fort Worth’s North Side was once Texas headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan, a legacy that Transform 1012 N. Main St. wants to reverse. The coalition of nonprofits has bought the former Klavern No. 101 auditorium with plans turn it into the Fred Rouse Center for Arts and Community Healing, named after a Black butcher who was lynched by a white mob in Fort Worth in 1921.
“Fort Worth has a history of racism that it has never reckoned with, so this building becomes an opportunity,” says Daniel Banks, board chair of Transform 1012 and co-founder of the arts and service group DNAWORKS, which is based in the city. “It was built to remind the Hispanic and Black and immigrant residents of the North Side that they were constantly under watch, that that they had no agency.”
He says interest in the project is already helping realize its purpose “around conversations about privilege and white supremacy and resources and opportunity and access. These are all conversations just by the project being out there.”
The former owner donated part of the cost, according to Banks, but he won’t say how much Transform 1012, organized in 2019, wound up paying. A bid at that time to stabilize the building, bringing it up to code, was $1.62 million, he says. The hard costs to turn it into the coalition’s vision is about $35 million. That doesn’t include soft costs like the design.
The vision is wide-ranging, to include a performance space; arts training; social services; exhibit, meeting and live/work space for artists and entrepreneurs-in-residence; and an agriculture and artisan marketplace.
“I envision a crossroads where all of Fort Worth can gather, where every cultural group feels a sense of belonging, of being seen, represented and listened to,” Banks says. “This is an opportunity for healing on a massive scale.”
Besides DNAWORKS, the coalition includes such groups as LGBTQ SAVES, the Opal Lee Foundation, SOL Ballet Folklórico and Tarrant County Coalition for Peace and Justice. The money to buy the building came from Rainwater Charitable Foundation, Atmos Energy, the National Endowment for the Arts and other funders.