Waco, TX (FOX 44) — The Waco Historic Landmark Preservation Commission approved of a recommendation this evening to create a historical designated space on site at the former Paul Quinn college campus.

William Decker Johnson Hall will be the first locally designated landmark on the schools original campus in Waco.

Paul Quinn staff say its been a goal for 30 years to have this building dedicated as a historic landmark.

Current image of William Decker Johnson Hall

With recent support from Waco leaders and organizations, the school is happy to start the process of preserving Black history.

“It’s a very special moment for all who have been involved in this process, particularly for the Paul Quinn graduates, those that still live in the Waco community, and those outside of the Waco community,” said Josette Ayres, board chair of Paul Quinn Campus Incorporated.

Johnson Hall is a three story building standing for 100 years as a dining hall, dormitory, library, and classroom space for Black scholars in Waco.

Waco Historic Landmark Commissioner Janette Bell says this project has been long needed.

“When you lose your history its like losing a part of you, and now it’s like we have a rebirth,” said Bell.

William Pittman, the first registered African American architect in the state of Texas, built this building in 1922 and is the last of his remaining buildings to not be a designated landmark.

The goal is the restore this building to be a community asset to represent East Waco and support the entire city.

“Educational purposes as a possibly, a satellite location for a historically black college, training and job skills,” said Ayres.

Potential restoration design of Johnson Hall

Another idea is for the building to serve as a cultural center.

Work is also underway with the national registry to be a national landmark under education and the African American experience.

“The present and future generations need to know their history. You have to know where you come from in order to know where you’re going,” said Bell.

Paul Quinn has launched a grassroots campaign for the community to donate funds for the restoration.

The next step is for the project to go to the city’s planning commission later this month.