Eight years ago, John Kneebone, a history professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, created an interactive map, Mapping the Second Ku Klux Klan, 1915-1940, which showcased the specific locations of Ku Klux Klan chapters—also known as “klaverns”—throughout the U.S. “This map shows that you can’t just say ‘Oh, it was those crazy people in the South’,” Kneebone said. “The [KKK] was in the mainstream.”
In his research, Kneebone found that over 2,000 klaverns had been established in the early aughts of Jim Crow as far north as Caribou, Maine and even Fairbanks, Alaska. Today in Fort Worth, Texas, one of those klaverns is in the process of being converted into a center for arts and community healing. A design competition led by Texas nonprofit Transform 1012 N. Main Street (Transform 1012) announced this week four design teams shortlisted vying to do so.
The four shortlisted design teams are: B-arn-S Architects with ch_studio; Colloqate Design with BrandNu Design Studio; Hines Architecture+Design and Elizabeth Kennedy Landscape Architect; and UX Architecture, KP Design Studio, and EJ+P Architects. The winner will transform Ku Klux Klan Klavern No. 101 Auditorium in Fort Worth into The Fred Rouse Center for Arts and Community Healing. The Center is to be named after a Black butcher who was lynched by klansmen in Fort Worth in 1921.
The design competition’s selection committee and board chose these four architects based on their statement of values and commitments, in lieu of a request for qualifications, they sent in accompanying their design vision. The architects were tasked with stating how their ethos and practice aligns with Transform 1012’s own mission. The local Fort Worth groups involved in the project are DNAWORKS, LGBTQ SAVES, Opal Lee Foundation, SOL Ballet Folklórico, Tarrant County Coalition for Peace and Justice, The Welman Project, Window to Your World, and the 1012 Youth Council.
“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; where we celebrate the richness of our individual cultures freely and openly; and where repairing past harm and damage leads to greater respect and appreciation, creativity, and love—of self and one another,” said Daniel Banks, cofounder of DNAWORKS, a founding organization of Transform 1012.
MASS Design Group provided initial design concepts for the renovation with a series of renderings showing the space used for events and as a park and amphitheater. Transform 1012 notes that the design selection process began in 2022 with an event they kicked off, “Redesigning the Design Competition.” The firm collaborated with Transform 1012 on a“Pre-Submission Webinar” prior to announcement of an RFQ to name a design team for the project. The seminar gave interested design firms an overview of the Fort Worth building’s history and the project scope.
Between October 15–18, the four finalists will visit Fort Worth to connect with local community members and key stakeholders, and present their design concepts in a public forum. The following four weeks, community members will review the proposals. A final selection on the design team for the transformation is slated to be announced on November 15.