National Park Service Grants $9.7M to Preserve HBCUs

The NPS awarded 13 HBCUs up to $750,000 per project to preserve and restore historical buildings, structures, and landmarks.
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  • Since the 1990s, the National Park Service has awarded over $60 million to historically Black colleges and universities.
  • The minimum grant request is $50,000, while the maximum is $750,000.
  • The NPS evaluates each grant request based on significance, need/urgency/threat, mitigation of threat, and feasibility.

The National Park Service (NPS) is helping historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) nationwide preserve and rebuild structures, buildings, and other historical landmarks.

The National Park Service announced May 5 it had awarded a total of $9.7 million to 13 HBCUs in 10 states as part of the Historic Preservation Fund's Historically Black Colleges and Universities grant program.

"I am pleased to see another round of essential funding coming to South Carolina's HBCUs," South Carolina Congressman James E. Clyburn said in a press release. Clyburn helped authorize the program in 2003 and 2019.

"I applaud the National Park Service for supporting these preservation and rehabilitation projects. This continued support will help future generations remember the legacy of HBCUs," he said.

According to the NPS, since the 1990s, the organization has awarded over $60 million to over 80 HBCUs to preserve historic structures. In fiscal year 2022, the NPS also awarded $9.7 million for 21 preservation projects.

"These grants enable historic educational institutions to preserve the story of African American education and the campuses where new experiences and stories continue to evolve today," said NPS Director Chuck Sams in the NPS press release.

"Through the Historically Black Colleges and Universities grants program, the National Park Service supports our HBCUs in the preservation of their historic campus structures and history."

HBCUs That Received Awards From National Park Service

Allen University

  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Awarded: $750,000
  • Structure: Coppin Hall

"The cornerstone of Coppin Hall was laid in 1906 by builder Reverend John C. Smart of Winnsboro, who was also a traveling minister of the A.M.E Church," the Richland County SC Cultural Resources Inventory Listing says. "It was completed in 1907 for a price of $22,000."

"The first floor at one time housed an office, a library, and a recreation area. On the second floor was a chapel that could hold 700 people, while the third and fourth floors were used as girl's dormitories."

Benedict College

  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Awarded: Two $750,000 grants
  • Structures: Morgan Hall and Antisdel Chapel

Morgan Hall, the college's oldest building on campus, was home to five college presidents after its construction in 1895.

Antisdel Chapel, constructed in 1932, was named for the college's seventh and last white president the Rev. Clarence E. Antisdel, whose tenure lasted from 1921-1930, according to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

Dillard University

  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Awarded: $750,000
  • Structure: Howard House

The Howard House was part of an original 33-acre campus during Dillard's second president Albert W. Dent's 28-year tenure, which started in 1941.

Elizabeth City State University

  • Elizabeth City, North Carolina
  • Awarded: $750,000
  • Structure: Principal's House

"Vice principal's residence occupies the historic 2-story, wooden former residence for every CEO of ECSU and their families except Drs. Moore, Burnim, and Gilchrist," the university's website says. "Constructed 1923 in honor of then Vice Principal Bias, it was renovated (1992) for the Educational Talent Search Program and was renovated again (2004) via a matched State Historic Preservation grant."

Florida A&M University

  • Tallahassee, Florida
  • Awarded: $746,588
  • Structure: Jackson Davis Hall

Jackson Davis Hall was built by 1924 FAMU president J. R. E. Lee from gifts by the General Education Board, the Rosenwald Fund, and the Carnegie Foundation.

Hampton University

  • Hampton, Virginia
  • Awarded: $750,000
  • Structure: Mansion House

According to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the Mansion House was an early 19th century dwelling that is now home to Hampton University's president.

Jackson State University

  • Jackson, Mississippi
  • Awarded: $500,000
  • Structure: Mt. Olive Cemetery

"Mt. Olive Cemetery, established in the early 1800s, is one of the oldest private cemeteries for African Americans in the state of Mississippi," JSU's website says. "The cemetery represents four distinct eras in history: slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement.

"Based on the work of Jackson State University's Center for University-Based Development, Mt. Olive Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in June 2017 and the designation denotes the worthiness of its preservation."

Morris Brown College

  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Awarded: $453,462
  • Structure: Fountain (Stone) Hall

"Fountain Hall is an iconic symbol of Morris Brown College," Morris Brown College President Kevin James said in a 2021 statement. "I liken it to strength and perseverance. A historical landmark built in the 1882 by former slaves. People who have come through Morris Brown College are very familiar with Fountain Hall. They took classes there, they had chapel there, they joined fraternities and sororities in the building. Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois' office was on the second floor so it's historic in nature itself."

Saint Augustine's University

  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Awarded: $749,980
  • Structure: Masonic Temple

"It was built in 1907 by Raleigh's earliest African American fraternal orders: the Widow's Sons' Lodge #4, established in 1867 by prominent African American missionary and social leader Bishop James W. Hood; and the Excelsior Lodge #21, founded in 1879," Raleigh Historic Development Commission wrote. "The lodges were major contributors to the social and economic betterment of Raleigh's African American community."

Selma University

  • Selma, Alabama
  • Awarded: $750,000
  • Structure: Pollard Hall

Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell announced that the project will help repair the roof, HVAC system, electrical and plumbing systems, and install an elevator. The school will also contribute $496,414 to the project.

"Built in 1916, Pollard Hall of Selma University, founded as the Alabama Baptist Normal and Theological School in 1878, served as an administrative center for visitors, a meeting place for major figures in Black education, such as Booker T. Washington, and a home for several university presidents," Sewell's statement said. "Pollard Hall is a contributing resource to the proposed Selma University Historic District."

South Carolina State University

  • Orangeburg, South Carolina
  • Awarded: $750,000
  • Structure: Wilkinson Hall

The Wilkinson Hall grant will go toward the next phase of the renovation project. The hall was constructed in 1938 and has received three prior NPS grants.

Wiley College

  • Marshall, Texas
  • Awarded: $500,000
  • Project: Wiley Pemberton Preservation Project

Wilberforce University

  • Wilberforce, Ohio
  • Awarded: $750,000
  • Structure: Academic Complex

"By working with our National Park Service to honor key sites at Historically Black Colleges and Universities we are preserving the legacy of these institutions," U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said in an announcement. "This investment at Wilberforce University gives an opportunity for future generations of Ohioans to learn our state's proud history at Historically Black Colleges and Universities."

How Do HBCUs Qualify for the Grant?

Any HBCU that wants to apply must seek funding for a property listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places or designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The grant won't fund new construction or acquisitions, just preserving historic structures, objects, buildings, sites, and districts. The minimum grant request is $50,000, while the maximum is $750,000.

The NPS evaluates each grant request based on significance, need/urgency/threat, mitigation of threat, and feasibility.