Local officials break ground at the Bath House Cultural Center. (Photo courtesy of Teresa Bond)

After being delayed months because of the coronavirus, $1.5-million renovations at the Bath House Cultural Center finally began Tuesday with a groundbreaking.

The Bath House closed in late February for renovations to improve the appearance and accessibility of the landmark site. Before the City of Dallas could approve construction permits, the coronavirus hit, shutting many sectors of the economy and forcing employees to work from home.

“Communications got bogged down, and [our request] just got stuck,” said Teresa Bond, treasurer of Friends of the Bath House Cultural Center. “We were hoping that construction could be going on during the shutdown, but it just sat there. We called Paula Blackmon and said, ‘Can you help us?'”

With Blackmon’s help, the permits were approved, and she had the honor of breaking ground Tuesday.

(Photo courtesy of Teresa Bond)

Blackmon was accompanied by Maria Hasbany, District 9 Park and Recreation Board member; Marty Van Kleeck, manager of the Bath House Cultural Center; David Fisher from the Office of Arts and Culture; Lee Oakley, president of Friends of the Bath House Cultural Center; and Martha Walsh, project manager from the City of Dallas Bond Office.

Construction was expected to finish in August, but officials say the work may not be complete until November. The first major construction on the Art Deco building since it was built in 1930 includes kitchen renovations, bathrooms that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, plumbing and electrical improvements and better access to the lake level.

“I’m sure we won’t have a grand reopening for a while, but my hope is that as we start to reopen, they would consider places like the Bath House because we are able to do things outside,” Bond said. “We’re ready to get back and offer people an outlet that’s positive and enjoyable.”