Boeing Co. gives $100K in memory of Pinckney Allen University will use gift in restoration of historic auditorium

Allen University’s Chappelle Auditorium is designated a National Historic Landmark.

Boeing Co. has given an additional $100,000 to Allen University in Columbia to help pay for restoration of Chappelle Auditorium, the site of historic speeches by African-American leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali.

The gift was made in memory of the late Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was among the nine people killed last year in a mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

The donation builds on a $250,000 gift Boeing gave to the project last summer.

“As our business has grown in South Carolina, it is only natural that our relationship with Allen University, a university of such historic importance to the state of South Carolina, would grow as well,” Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a statement. “One of the strongest advocates for restoring Chappelle Auditorium was the late Rev. Pinckney. With this grant we look forward to seeing his vision through to completion as Chappelle Auditorium is fully restored to its former state of glory.”

Restoration of the 91-year-old, 7,300-square-foot building began in early 2014 and is expected to be completed this spring.

In its early history, Chappelle Auditorium became a significant landmark as a place where African-Americans could freely assemble. The building is one of 20 historically black college structures marked for preservation by the U.S. Department of the Interior and it is designated a National Historic Landmark due to its unique architectural features and historic significance.

Among the others who have spoken or performed at the auditorium are: Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of a private school for African-Americans in Florida; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; and blues singer Brook Benton. It was designed by John Anderson Lankford, known as the “dean of black architects.”

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5500 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_