The nation’s leading historic preservation groups have just announced a pilot program to plan care for cultural resources at up to eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
The Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative will give the selected HBCUs financial and technical resources to support cultural stewardship plans at each campus to preserve buildings and landscapes.
Many buildings at HBCUs were designed by African-American architects, but these buildings often don’t get needed funding for maintenance. This issue has been on preservationists’ radars for some time: the National Trust for Historic Preservation, one of the initiative’s partners, named HBCUs as a whole as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places back in 1998. The Trust will pay for up to six preservation efforts for individual buildings and two whole-campus preservation plans during the pilot. To support these efforts, the stewardship initiative will develop a maintenance infrastructure by giving money to schools to hire preservation consultants.
There’s a social infrastructure component, as well: plans call for brokering new relationships between HBCU boards of trustees, presidents, and campus facilities departments, as well as engaging the schools’ design and preservation students along with Black design professionals in support of a more diverse and inclusive design field.
In addition to the Trust, partners in the $1 million Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative include the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, The JPB Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, and The Executive Leadership Council. Grant applications open this fall.
Leadership at Howard University, Morgan State University, and the University of Virginia serve on the advisory committee. Joining them are preservation architect Arthur J. Clement; Michael Marshall of Washington, D.C–based Michael Marshall Design; Nakita Reed of Quinn Evans; Cultural Landscape Group director Robert Z. Melnick; and Jack Pyburn, principal at Lorde Aeck Sargent.
The first HBCUs were founded in Ohio and Pennsylvania before the Civil War to educate Black people who were mostly barred via racial discrimination from existing colleges and universities. During post–Civil War Reconstruction, many more HBCUs were founded in the South. Today, there are 105 HBCUs in the United States. The acronym was applied to schools that serve predominately Black students following the passage of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which expanded federal funding to higher education.