Voorhees Wins National Historic Preservation Grant | Local
DENMARK — Voorhees University and other historically black colleges and universities are receiving a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to address deferred maintenance issues and plan the rehabilitation of historic buildings on their campuses.
The grant is for $650,000 and is awarded through the National Trust’s HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative to Voorhees and the following HBCUs: Florida A&M University, Rust College, Johnson C. Smith University and Shaw University.
“We appreciate this grant, which will be used to support our cultural heritage stewardship plans for Menafee and Massachusetts Halls and other historic areas on campus. These historic structures are a source of pride for us and will be used to educate future students who enroll at our institution,” said Voorhees President Ronnie Hopkins.
“We, like other HBCUs, have significant infrastructure issues and these resources will help us resolve some of them,” the president said.
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Esther T. Brown, director of sponsored programs and grant services at Voorhees, said her deferred maintenance issues are significant.
Voorhees facilities and grounds are rich in history but require funding for preservation and deferred maintenance. Save a $500,000 NPS grant for Washington Hall, most campus facilities have not been renovated since the 1980s. A preservation plan will assess the campus, address existing conditions, and establish priorities, goals, and preservation goals,” Brown said.
She continued: “Menafee Hall is adjacent to the grove, which historically served as a revenue generator for Voorhees (university). The vision is to preserve the grove for use as a common space, connecting to Menafee, which is now a dormitory , and other residential buildings.”
The grove served as a gathering place for campus barbecues, community and family fun days, and other outdoor college events.
The college’s Greek Plots/Academic Circle area will also be rehabilitated with the funds.
“The Greek Plots are a center of campus culture and are surrounded by Voorhees’ (university) oldest assets: Bedford Hall (1912); Massachusetts Hall (1930); St. James Building (1932); Wright Hall (1932 ); and St. Philip’s Chapel (1935). With the exception of the chapel, all buildings have been refurbished and are in need of major upgrades and improvements,” Brown said.
She said the grant funds will help the university modernize historic areas, including the grave of college founder Elizabeth Evelyn Wright.
“Upgrades to our founder’s tomb will include, but not be limited to, a complete renovation to include a memorial garden, seating area and fountain on the lawn near the tomb,” Brown said.
She said the National Trust’s HBCU cultural heritage stewardship initiative is important.
“The partnership aims to equip HBCUs with the resources necessary to protect, preserve and benefit from their historic campuses, buildings and landscapes, ensuring that these academic institutions and symbols of African-American pride are preserved to inspire and educate people. future generations,” Brown said.
She continued: “Since HBCUs were listed as one of America’s 11 most endangered historic places in 1998, the National Trust has advocated and worked to build the stewardship capacity of HBCUs, while raising national awareness of their importance and threats of demolition, deferred maintenance and insufficient funding.
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