WAXAHACHIE — Built in 1958, an old clinic on West Jefferson Street has recently transformed from a physical place of healing to a spiritual hospital for the soul.
“Most people who walk in are amazed because they’re so used to it being a medical facility,” began Pastor Rodney Holliday of Victory Baptist Church. “In all my years of preaching, I have and will continue to say it, ‘the church is the spiritual hospital where people can come and get healed and renewed.’ Over all the years this facility was used for people to get physical care, people can now come to get spiritual care."
What once was the Family Practice Association that served 11 budding physicians throughout 59 years now houses Victory Baptist Church, which held its first service on Mother's Day, May 14.
“It was the church’s foresight to take a doctor’s office and convert it to a church,” explained Dr. Richard Redington, former owner of the building. “It was chopped up into 12 exam rooms, a lab, an x-ray room, an EKG room, a doctors’ offices, and now this building has gone through an amazing transformation, and it’s fun to be a part of it."
With a history that dates back nearly six decades, Redington said the history of building all began with its first owner, Dr. B.C. Wallace.
“Dr. Wallace, who was in his early 40s, had a massive heart attack in about 1957, which spurred him to look for a partner. Well, Dr. Nelson Jones, an East Texas boy, came through town and had done his military service and was looking for a place to practice. He ended up meeting Dr. Wallace, and they decided to build this clinic together,” Redington recalled.
Going into business together across the street from the former Baylor hospital, Wallace had a second, this time fatal heart attack and left the clinic to Jones.
“Within a year, he recruited a guy named Dr. Dave Williams. When he and his wife, Shirley, came to this town and drove by, they saw Dr. Jones running across the street from the clinic to the hospital to see a patient,” Redington described the scene.
“[...] Dr. Jones told Dr. Williams, ‘Come with me. Let’s go make rounds; I’ve got a sick patient to see.’ And Dr. Williams was hooked and said, ‘This is where I need to be,’” he laughed. “Those guys did deliveries, assisted in surgeries, and covered the emergency room in the hospital.”
Working the clinic by day and the hospital by night, the two doctors expanded and added Redington in 1976.
“I came in, and that was after two other partners came and went in the 60s, and we became a three-man group,” Redington recollected the partnership. “After I came, Dr. Jones decided he wanted to retire and Dr. Jim Pickens (joined), who’s now working at the medical center on Main Street, he stayed with us for about 15 years. Well, Dr. Jones expanded the building then retired."
Throughout the 1990s doctors rotated through the clinic, until Redington ran the practice on his own, retiring in 2013 and renting the property out until June 2016.
“At that time, the building wasn’t going to function as doctors office anymore. The old part of the building didn’t have three-prong outlets, the wiring was from 1958, every room had a sink, and the halls were very narrow,” Redington told of the facility’s desperate updates.
At the same time, Holliday had been searching for a new home for his congregation and came across the for sale sign during his wife's dental visit in the area.
“I remembered the building from when I was a kid, and I thought, ‘There has to be a way for this to work.’ So I called, started working with Dr. Redington and we figured it out,” Holliday recollected.
“It’s a bold move to take a little area that has been medical for almost 60 years and change it,” Redington admitted. “But I came to the realization that it had used up its useful life as a doctor's office and probably need to be something else.”
“And my wife, who’s very religious, thought it was a great idea and supported it the entire way, saying, ‘Anything you can do to help a church, you need to do.’ And I agreed,” he included.
After the congregation had raised almost $100,000 and purchased the building, the church began the remolding process with a lot of work — and community support.
“It was completely gutted, and we redid the whole thing,” Holliday recalled. “The sanctuary was, I think, 12 exam rooms before and every room had sinks in it, so we had to rip out all the plumbing, walls, and bring in steel beams.”
“We’re an independent Baptist church, and we don’t belong to any affiliation, so this is pretty much all of our members doing the work, and we hired some outside contractors to help us out quite a bit,” he added. “This was all the Lord’s doing because we’re a small church and we can’t do this all by ourselves.”
Over the span of six months, the church partnered with Friends Electric, Air One Construction, Gibson Plumbing, and Huge Monsanto Architect to bring the project to fruition.
“When you get into remolding, you find things out pretty quick,” Holliday chuckled. “We had to gut all the exam rooms to make the sanctuary, which supported the weight of the roof, and that was the biggest obstacle.
“At first, we thought we were going to use wood engineered beams, and then we were told that we had to bring in steel, so that was fairly costly. But everyone who has had a tie to this building has been wonderful to work with,” he noted.
Although the renovations were extensive, Holliday assures that they preserved as much of the integrity of the building’s history as possible.
“We tried to keep some of the original features of the building, like some of the windows are still there, the brick was original to the building, and in the lobby, it’s similar to the reception area except a little more open,” Holliday confirmed. “It shows us, the congregation, of what the Lord can do. That means more than anything else because we are a small church and to do something of this magnitude, we couldn’t have done it without the Lord. It’s really a testimony of the Lord’s grace and mercy to us."
“This building has had an amazing transformation,” Redington jumped in. "The building was respected by the community in the past and will continue to be that way now. We just want them to be happy here, to flourish and do well.”
As for the church’s new beginning in an old location, Holliday invites the community to attend their grand opening in a dedication service Sunday, June 11.
“We just want it to be a building where the Lord gets honored for years and years to come. And we’re doing our best to respect the history of the building, going from a physical hospital to a spiritual hospital, and we’d like to celebrate with the community,” Holliday finished with a grin.
Victory Baptist Church’s building dedication service will be held Sunday, June 11 at 10:30 a.m. on 1410 West Jefferson Street. For more information visit victorybaptistwax.com or email email@example.com.
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer