At Paul Quinn College, It's: So Long, Old Dorms! Hello, Lacrosse and Gardens!

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Photos by Patrick Michels
Trammell S. Crow, donated $1 million for the demolition of 13 abandoned buildings at Paul Quinn College, takes down the first chunk of the old T.M. Chambers House Tuesday morning.
The football field's already given way to a Pepsi-sponsored urban farm at Paul Quinn College, and today the school began clearing room for a few new additions to the South Dallas campus: lacrosse and soccer fields, new student dorms and a botanical garden.

To clear up the space, the school's tearing down 13 abandoned buildings around the campus over the next few months, bankrolled by a $1 million donation from Trammell S. Crow -- the man of the hour at this morning's ceremonial tear-down, where city officials and alumni came together to sweat profusely and witness the demolition of the T.M. Chambers House, an old faculty dorm.

"Today we declare the curse of unfulfilled promise and potential at 3837 Simpson Stuart Road to be forever gone," Paul Quinn College president Michael Sorrell said, calling the day "a step forward to becoming one of America's great small colleges."

Sorrell joked that old Army and Navy surplus explosives would be a faster way to bring down the old buildings, but said the whole operation would go down in keeping with the new vision for Paul Quinn College as a "green campus." Trees will be preserved and old bricks will be sold off or repurposed for a new back wall, he said.

Council member Tennell Atkins took his turn at the mic to say that having business leaders like Crow contribute to remaking the college was a sign of unity across the city. "You see the whole city come together," Atkins said. "Now you see the southern sector coming together with the Arts District."

Later, Atkins got to climb inside the backhoe and knock down a piece of the old building. "I hadn't been in one of those for 30 years," said Atkins.

"I want the Quinnites to prove to the leadership of Dallas -- and primarily the business leaders of Dallas -- that this is going to be an essential part of the community," Crow told the crowd, stressing the need for Quinn graduates to contribute to the local electronics industry.

He also issued a vague challenge to the school, to "show the city of Dallas an exhibition" within a year, telling Sorrell he wouldn't go into details today, but promising it'd be "lots of hard work for Paul Quinn students."

In recognition of his contributions to the school, Crow also got to climb aboard the backhoe and take down the first piece of the dorm.

The demolition will run through September 25, an A&R Demolition worker told us before the ceremony, but Sorrell said he hoped to see demolition of all 13 buildings wrap in two months.

Speaking for graduates of the old Bishop College -- which had been at the campus before Paul Quinn College took over 30 years ago -- alumni association president Bobby Moten said, "It's sad each time we drive by because we see what happened." Moten was of a few who called the demolition a bittersweet event. "Our hearts are heavy, but we are bustin' with excitement."

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Michael Sorrell and Trammell S. Crow talk with A&R Demolition workers before the ceremony.

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An overflow crowd of alumni, city leaders and Paul Quinn College neighbors came for the morning ceremony.
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Demolition workers escort Crow to his ride in the backhoe.
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Crow had an awesome time tearing down the wall.

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