The National Park Service has awarded Benedict College and Voorhees College $500,000 each towards historic structure preservation. The two SCICU member colleges are among eighteen (18) historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in nine (9) states chosen to receive historic preservation grant funding through an $8.6 million National Park Service program.
Benedict College’s grant is earmarked for the preservation of Morgan Hall. Constructed in 1895, Morgan Hall was originally intended for the Benedict president’s residence, and is the oldest remaining structure on the campus.
“Morgan Hall is a primary space where we welcome the community, and we’re excited to know now that we can restore it to its former glory,” said Leandra Hayes-Burgess, Benedict College Vice President for Institutional Advancement.
Benedict College President Dr. Roslyn Artis believes this will be a first step toward renovating the entire campus.
The Booker T. Washington Hall on the Voorhees campus will benefit from the NPS preservation grant funding. The hall was built in 1905 and was originally used as a hospital for the Bamberg County area.
“It is fitting that funding be provided to preserve such a significant and historic structure as the Booker T. Washington Hall,” said Voorhees College President W. Franklin Evans. “This building is the only structure currently on campus that Voorhees’ founder, Ms. Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, witnessed seeing.”
“HBCUs have played an important role in our country’s pursuit of equality, civil rights, and higher education for all Americans,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith. “These grants will help restore and enhance landmark buildings that are a source of pride on campuses in nine states.”
Historically Black Colleges and Universities Grants support the preservation of sites on HBCU campuses that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Eligible projects include pre-preservation studies, architectural plans and specifications, historic structure reports, and the repair and rehabilitation of historic properties according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
Background – HBCU Historic Preservation Funding
In 1998, a US Government Office of Accountability study identified 712 historic properties on the campuses of 103 HBCUs. Nearly half of those buildings (323) are on the National Register of Historic Places, indicating significance in American history. The remaining properties were deemed eligible for the national register based on surveys by state historic preservation officers or considered historic by the colleges and universities.
The GAO survey estimated $755 million would be needed to fund restoration and preservation of the 700+ historical properties.
Through 2016, 59 HBCUs in 20 states received historic preservation funding via the HBCU Historic Preservation Program. The program has provided funding for the restoration of Chappelle Auditorium and Arnett Hall at Allen University. Claflin University’s Ministers’ Hall, built in 1913, was restored through the same grant program.
Rep. James E. Clyburn (D, SC 6th District) has consistently been a strong supporter of the HBCU Historic Preservation Program. Seven of South Carolina’s 8 HBCUs are located in Rep. Clyburn’s district. Most recently, Rep. Clyburn introduced H.R. 1135 (To Authorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Preservation Program). Rep. Clyburn’s press release on the House passage of this legislation may be read at https://clyburn.house.gov/press-release/clyburn-statement-passage-hr-1135-reauthorize-hbcu-historic-preservation-program. Both H. R. 1135 and companion legislation S. 1446 were reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on March 8, 2018. The committee recommended Senate passage of H. R. 1135.
More information on HBCU Historic Preservation and SCICU member colleges and universities may be read in the following posts:
- Claflin President Testifies at Congressional Hearing in Support of HBCU Historic Preservation Program
- Boeing Donates to Allen University in Name of Rev. Clementa Pinckney
- Allen University Unveils Renovation of Historic Chappelle Auditorium
Information sources for this post include the National Park Service, Claflin University, Voorhees College, United Negro College Fund, WIS-TV, Voorhees College, SC Radio Network, Rep. James E. Clyburn, and
the Congressional Record.