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Closed for 10 years, historical church reopens at Paul Quinn College in Dallas

For the last 10 years, Richard Allen Chapel has been closed. After years of restoration, it reopened. Thousands celebrated on Friday.

DALLAS — At Paul Quinn College in Dallas, the church has always been an important symbol on campus. But for the last 10 years, the doors have been locked.

What's now called Richard Allen Chapel was built in 1967. For 43 years, students used it as a place to worship and pray. Graduation ceremonies were also held in the chapel. 

Over time, the inside started to deteriorate. The college was facing financial difficulties, and other parts of campus needed to be fixed first. 

Johnny Tellis, an alumnus of Paul Quinn College, remembers spending a lot of time at the chapel. "This building went through a metamorphosis." 

He said it was deteriorating and would occasionally be patched up. The roof started leaking, asbestos was discovered, and it became a hazard to allow people inside.

This week, the chapel reopened after a decade. On Friday, it was filled with churchgoers celebrating their place of worship.

Credit: WFAA

"The church has good bones," said Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie with the 10th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. 

She said the chairs, the glass, the lights and more are all original, just restored. 

"We built on the great structure and foundation that is here," said Bishop McKenzie. The restoration maintains the history of the chapel. "We really set this space aside for Jesus once again."

With this revival, today's students at Paul Quinn College can build upon the legacy of the church. 

Consuelo Polk, a junior, said, "To walk in here and to know that I am a part of something great is absolutely amazing." 

Polk is part of the Paul Quinn Choir and is excited to sing in a chapel filled with black history.

The chapel seats nearly 1,500 people. More than $700,000 was spent on renovations, which started in 2016. 

Graduation ceremonies and more will be held in the church once again.

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