St Paul United Methodist Church is one of the very oldest churches in Dallas. It was founded in the heart of what was to become a thriving African American community just outside the downtown business district. The community wrapped around downtown from west to north, encompassing the old State Thomas neighborhood to Deep Ellum.
According to the church website, it began in 1865 as a mission of the Wesley Church in New Orleans, Louisiana when freedmen from the south joined its congregation. Its first structure was located at its present location, 1816 Routh Street. It served as a school for the community in the 1870s by being the location of a school for African American children and also was the location for the school that became Huston-Tillotson College in Austin.
Construction of the current brick sanctuary began in 1913 on a design of William Sidney Pittman, Dallas’s first African American architect. Pittman worked for a number of years in Dallas and designed many buildings including the Knights of Pythias Temple. The National Park Service in its National Register of Historic Places Continuation Sheet attributes the design to M. H. (or H. N.) Black with alterations being attributed to Charles H. Leinbach. Looking at St. Paul’s building, one can see the different colors of brick. According to the church’s website, parishioners contributed funds and materials, including bricks, as the building was completed over the next ten to fifteen years. One floor including what is now the basement, was probably completed around 1922 with the other floors being completed around 1927. It is designed in the Collegiate Gothic Revival style.
The current structure has served the community for almost one hundred years now. It received a Dallas Landmark designation in 1982 and an official Texas Historical Marker in 2013. It received its listing on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service on December 27, 2016.