Scientology's Old Celebrity Centre in East Dallas Burned Down Yesterday

Categories: News, Religion

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DCAD
The Church of Scientology's local Celebrity Centre, in case you haven't been, is in a spacious, three-decade-old office building in Las Colinas with lots of floor-to-ceiling windows. It moved there in 2009, having outgrown its previous digs, in a pink stucco mansion in East Dallas.

How they settled on that particular house -- it had a ballroom, large jacuzzi, and mirror-covered poles -- isn't clear, but they bought the property at the corner of Buckner Boulevard and Dixie Lane in 2000.

The Dallas Morning News did a piece on the property in 2005, spilling at least as much ink on Scientology's claim to being a perfectly normal, mainstream religion (Theresa Dolaway, the executive director of the Dallas church, told the paper, "People think we're about converting people. We're more about making a better civilization.") as about the house itself, though there was that, too:

When the church bought the property in 2000, the ornate abode was outfitted for entertaining, Ms. Dolaway said. "The ballroom featured a large Jacuzzi and was adorned with mirror-covered poles. "It was pretty gaudy," she said. "We toned it down a little bit."

The hot tub and the disco lights are gone now, and church members study silently in the remodeled room.

Throughout the Celebrity Centre, glimpses of the house's past meld with the modern elements of Scientology.

Sparkling chandeliers and elaborately patterned carpets decorate offices brimming with Scientology books and study materials. Personality and IQ tests are administered in the former kitchen, and stress tests are given in a refurbished bedroom downstairs. Scientologists can study and seek spiritual growth at the Celebrity Centre.

It's been vacant for a years now. Its current owner, according to Candy's Dirt, bought it for his 16-year-old daughter but never moved in. He's been trying to sell it for a couple of years now.

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Fox 4
Click to embiggen.
There's no obvious reason, then, that the house would catch fire, which it did yesterday afternoon. Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans announced it to the media just after 5 p.m.

"I am told that the roof is made of such a material that it is not only keeping the fire inside structure, but it is also slowing the ability of firefighters to put water on it from above," he said.

As pictures from the TV news helicopters show, it was a big fire. All that remains now is a charred shell.


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28 comments
jamessavik
jamessavik

The fire was caused by the friction associated with a large number of closet queens in an enclosed space.

Threeboys
Threeboys

I grew up about half a mile from there.  Pre-scientology, we called it the pink whore house.

I happened to be in this part of town this morning.  It is not a shell, it's a pile of debris.  Nothing left standing but a mound.

I can see how it could be Gaston vandalism, especially given the time of day the fire took place.  Kids walk right by going south on Buckner from the school to their section 8 housing south of Ferguson.

vicki157
vicki157

just a couple of mistakes on this....Mr. Anderson did not buy the "church" for his 16 year old daughter.  He purchased the Belle Nora Mansion for her.  He has also not tried to sell the "church" , in fact he has had many opportunities and turned them all down.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

" There's no obvious reason, then, that the house would catch fire, which it did yesterday afternoon."

Except for this:  "He's been trying to sell it for a couple of years now."

And this:  "Personality and IQ tests are administered in the former kitchen, and stress tests are given in a refurbished bedroom downstairs. Scientologists can study and seek spiritual growth at the Celebrity Centre."

James080
James080 topcommenter

Imagine that...a roof that keep water out.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Spontaneous combustion occurs when a mortgage rubs up against an insurance policy.

Greg820
Greg820

It fulfilled its destiny.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

So he bought the house, no one ever moved in, and it caught fire? Insurance scam anyone?

tdkisok
tdkisok

@Threeboys 

Those little punks from Gaston Middle School are a problem all over the neighborhood. They vandalize property, terrorize motorists on Ash Creek and other streets in the area. All training for a future life of crime, taco making and teenage motherhood.........and then there is the downside.

Gastonalum
Gastonalum

@Threeboys I grew up near there and walked by it on my way to Gaston in the mornings.  Was it really a whorehouse?  That would explain the hot tub and mirrored poles.  I always thought it was occupied by some weird old recluse named, "Grandwick" who kept an odd collection of dead stuffed animals.  And it had always been "for sale" since I went to Gaston in the late 80's.

vicki157
vicki157

@Montemalone the house was not for sale, that is a mistake.  I had an offer from someone to purchase it, but Mr. Anderson did not wish to sell at all. 

Threeboys
Threeboys

@Gastonalum @Threeboys 

Was there a scantily clad woman standing outside every morning saying "Hello little Johnny"? while holding her thumb and index finger 2 inches apart?

No, it wasn't really a whorehouse as far as I know.  We just called it that when it got painted pink.

scarey
scarey

no knsurance on the house? thats craZy for the price oF the house.  he owns BELLE NORA ? yhey live there now ?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@vicki157 @holmantx 

possible.  He has a federal tax lien.  I can understand no mortgage however, it would be illogical to not have insurance unless he is broke.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

If that is the case, my money is on debt or enemies. Save the Tiger or a settled score.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz It's been a while since I have been over there, but that house had a gate and a very tall wall. Squatters seem a lot less likely than the owner needed cash and set the fire to collect insurance money.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@vicki157 @primi_timpano  

DPD does not investigate property crimes.  If you have insurance to cover the loss their attitude is that you are taken care of.  If you didn't have insurance, you should have.

 Why he didn't have insurance is interesting as it is my understanding that you are required by law to have property insurance that covers at least a certain percentage of the value of the property.

As far as the evidence found in the house, how do you know that?  That could have been put there by someone else.

vicki157
vicki157

@primi_timpano Possible.  However, he had been having trouble with vandals.  He has had police out numerous times this year.  Seems like right about the time school lets out at Gaston, the house was broken into with graffiti on the walls, broken windows, broken chandeliers, etc.  Kids names on the walls.  Seems to me like the one that started this could be found with a little effort by the police.  Owner has lots of evidence.  Even homework and papers that had fallen in the house.

bmarvel
bmarvel

@P1Gunter Oh, Gunter--take the time to read the rest of the comments before typing. No insurance.

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