South Carolina State University Awarded $50,000 from National Park Service

Monday, October 12, 2020

ORANGEBURG, S.C. – South Carolina State University (SC State) has been awarded a $50,000 grant for the preservation of Wilkinson Hall through the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Grant Program. It is funded by the National Park Service (NPS). The grant will fund additional forensic analysis and assessment of Wilkinson Hall to support the ongoing restoration and renovation process.

1890 June 24“We appreciate the National Park Service for joining South Carolina State University, a university with a rich legacy that continues to make invaluable contributions to the state, nation and world, in preserving our history by investing in and protecting this historic structure -Wilkinson Hall,” said South Carolina State University President, James E. Clark. “Thus far, we have received two awards totaling $550,000 from the National Park Service. We will continue our campaign to fully renovate and restore this historic building. I would like to thank Associate Provost Elbert R. Malone and his staff for their dedicated effort in putting together both of these proposals and look forward to their continued endeavors.”

“These grants help us to honor the legacy of HBCUs in serving our nation’s higher education needs,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela, exercising the authority of the Director. “Funding awarded this year will help preserve 18 historic properties on HBCU campuses in 12 states, many of which are listed in the National Register.”

Over the last decade, the National Park Service has been working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country on restoration projects with the assistance of SC State alumnus and U.S. Congressman James E. Clyburn. Since the 1990s, the organization has awarded more than $60 million in grants to over 80 of the remaining active HBCUs.

Wilkinson Hall is one of the oldest standing structures on the campus of South Carolina State University. The building dates back to 1938 and is part of the South Carolina State University National Register Historic District. The funds granted by the NPS will allow the university to rehabilitate and restore Wilkinson Hall. The preservation of this historic building will once again allow administrators, faculty, students and alumni to experience the richness and legacy of this proud structure on the campus of SC State University.

The $50,000 grant is the second to be awarded for the preservation of Wilkinson Hall. In 2018, SC State University received a $500,000 grant to fund an initial assessment of the building as well as the weatherization of the building. The 2018 grant has laid a solid foundation to allow these critical tasks to be completed in a timely manner.

Michael Allen, a 1982 graduate of SC State University, is a historic preservation specialist and is responsible for ensuring that project tasks are completed in a timely manner.

“Our objective is to get it (Wilkinson Hall project) done in a timely matter to reflect the history, culture and legacy of the university and the building,” Allen said. “The core issue right now is protecting the building from water intrusion.”

Allen explained what preserving the building means for the university overall.

“Wilkinson is one of the oldest standing buildings on the campus. The preserving and protecting of Wilkinson Hall reflect the history of the university, and demonstrates that the university respects its history and legacy through its buildings,” Allen said.

“Preserving the building will also provide an opportunity for a new generation of students to utilize the services that will be provided to them within this historic structure. I’m a firm believer in historic preservation, which is a nod to the history of our institution,” Allen continued.

There’s a sentimental value in maintaining historic buildings as well. Allen described his experiences as a student at SC State in the fall of 1978 - when the bookstore was located in the basement of Wilkinson Hall and he had to wait in long lines. He indicated how important it is for alumni to have a tangible place they can visit and reflect on their time at the university. Additionally, Allen’s wife and children also attended SC State, which makes safeguarding its history an important part of their lives.

“HBCUs are a cornerstone of African American history and life. It is important to preserve the fiber of these valuable institutions. By the National Park Service providing funding, it is supporting the university in its efforts in saving a valuable treasure on the campus,” Allen said.

Allen also thanked SC State President James E. Clark, SC State Associate Provost Elbert R. Malone and the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research staff for their continued support in protecting the historic fabric of the campus by seeking funds and resources needed to honor the legacy and heritage of the university.

Allen and his team are optimistic about the National Park Service’s continued support of SC State’s efforts to protect and preserve Wilkinson Hall, so that it can be utilized by the students, faculty, staff and the administration of SC State University for years to come.

This grant is funded by the Historic Preservation Fund and administered by the National Park Service, an agency of the Department of Interior.