On Thursday, March 24, 2022, Holy Cross Episcopal Church closed on the purchase of 758 Austen Place. Known as the Dalzell House, the property is next door to Holy Cross Hope House. In addition to the Dalzell House, Holy Cross purchased the lots behind 762 Austen Place, Hope House, and 758 Austen Place, the Dalzell House.

The Dalzell House is historically significant to Holy Cross because it is the former rectory of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. And as many know, Holy Cross was founded by St. Mark’s members determined to maintain a presence in downtown Shreveport. So they created Holy Cross at 875 Cotton Street when St. Mark’s moved from Cotton Street to Fairfield Avenue in the 1950s.

Reverend Dr. William T. Dickinson Dalzell was the rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Shreveport (see: https://churchholycross.org/about/history/). In 1870, he built the house at 758 Austen Place as St. Mark’s rectory (the rector’s residence.)

During the yellow fever epidemic of 1873, 10,000 residents fled Shreveport. Despite appeals that he join them, Rev. Dr. Dalzell stayed in Shreveport to aid and comfort over 3,000 Shreveport residents who became infected with yellow fever. The mass grave in Oakland Cemetary, where eight hundred victims of the yellow fever epidemic were buried, can be seen from Dr. Dalzell’s former home.

Here’s an intriguing part of Dr. Dalzell’s story. Being a medical doctor and an Episcopal priest, Rev. Dr. Dalzell aided and ministered to the victims of two yellow fever outbreaks before Shreveport’s. First in Norfolk, Virginia, and then in Savannah, Georgia. When the first cases appeared in Shreveport, Dr. Dalzell warned the city leaders how fast the infection would spread and advised them to quarantine the sick and evacuate non-essential citizens immediately. Unfortunately, the city leaders ignored Dr. Dalzell’s advice for weeks until thousands became ill, but it was too late to slow down the spread of the disease. However, Rev. Dr. Dalzell did convince his congregation, and most of the members of St. Mark’s left the city before the epidemic began to spread.

Along with its historical significance to Holy Cross, the Dalzell House and land were purchased because of its location next door to and behind Holy Cross Hope House. Hope House’s overwhelming success has caused it to grow both in clients and services, and it could use a little extra space (see: https://churchholycross.org/community/hopehouse/). Holy Cross’ Vestry has not yet decided what the Dalzell House and land will be used for, but ideas and subsequent plans are in the works.