LANCASTER, Ohio (WCMH) – People who attend a 154-year-old “church house” in central Ohio are celebrating its roots.

The building stood as the center of a once-thriving Black community.

The people at Allen Chapel in Lancaster recently held an open house to show off the progress on that project.

During a time when they couldn’t attend white schools, Black students learned in a one-room school on the first floor of the building.

The roots of Lancaster’s Black community run deep on the plot of land along East Walnut Street, where the building that houses Allen Chapel was built here in 1869. The original church was founded on the land in 1825.

A historical marker recently put up on the property helps tell the story.

Evan Saunders grew up in Lancaster, remembering when the building was home to the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He now pastors the current congregation.

The building, now 154 years old, is undergoing extensive renovations.