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Original details preserved in Texas' oldest Black church invite memories of the past

March 14,2023

See full KERA news article by Sally Verrando here.

The Allen Chapel AME Church, completed in 1914, is the oldest African American church in Texas. It sits several blocks east of Sundance Square in historic downtown Fort Worth. Early worshipers had said the church’s rectangular shape reminded them of a blacksmith’s shop, where enslaved people decades earlier had often attended church services.

Renovations in the 1980s preserved many original features of the Gothic Revival style, such as the oak panels and seating for 1,300; pressed metal ceiling tiles; a massive pipe organ; and an array of arched stained-glass windows. The original square bell tower, however, was removed in 2011 after a lightning strike.

William Sidney Pittman, the state’s first Black architect and a son-in-law of Booker T. Washington, designed the two-story structure.

The Allen Chapel AME Church is listed as a Texas Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. Pittman designed other structures, two still standing in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas: the Knights of Pythias Temple, now a boutique hotel, and the St. James AME Church, a designated Dallas landmark near the Latino Cultural Center.

Location Mentioned: Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church