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Woodworth Chapel, named in honor of Frank P. Woodworth, who served the longest term as president of Tougaloo College (25 years), is individually eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance alone, being a fine example of Queen Anne style religious architecture. Facing the Mansion across the campus lawn, the Chapel's two-story brick facade has two gabled porticoed entrances. Irregular decorative wooden shingles grace the front-facing gable and cover the side of the Chapel's asymmetrically located bell tower. All of the first floor windows are arched and glazed with textured clear glass. Walker Frazier, head carpenter at the school, directed construction while students performed the majority of the labor. Most of the furniture for the church was made in the school's carpentry shops as well. Mr. John Lee, class of 1904, made the pulpit, which is still in use today.
In 1903, Murray Harris, of Los Angeles, donated a two-manual organ, thought to be the first in the south. It is powered manually, without the use of electricity or water. Harris's sister, Mrs. Cyrus Hamlin, used the organ to make Tougaloo the most outstanding center for classical and sacred music in Mississippi. As much as for its industrial instruction, Tougaloo won favor with the "high society" of Mississippi for the quality of its music.
The Chapel has long been the site for important lectures, performances, and events at the College. In the early twentieth century, George Washington Carver made quite an impression on students, demonstrating new uses for common plants. During the tumultuous 1960's and early 1970's, speakers of many persuasions, including such icons as Ralph Bunche, Julian Bond, Stokely Carmichael, James Baldwin, Roy Wilkins, Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Robert F. Kennedy and Fannie Lou Hamer, used the Chapel podium. Harry Belafonte, Leontyne Price, Frank Sinatra and many others performed in the Chapel. On the night of Joan Baez's Civil Rights era performance (April 1964), Woodworth Chapel was filled with the most integrated audience of its entire history. For the beauty it reveals in myriad forms, many consider Woodworth Chapel to be the origin of Mississippi's Civil Rights Movement.
In 2002, Woodworth Chapel was reopened upon completion of a four-and-a-half year total historic restoration.
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"Negro." WPA Records, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, MS.
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Wise, Deborah G. Tougaloo College Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1998.