Group fo­cused on sav­ing build­ing ap­plauds ‘en­dan­gered’ la­bel

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS -

LIN­COLN UNIVER­SITY >> An alumni group at the first de­gree-grant­ing in­sti­tu­tion for African-Amer­i­cans said Wed­nes­day its mem­bers are de­lighted that the old­est build­ing on cam­pus has been named one of Amer­ica’s “most en­dan­gered” places.

The Na­tional Trust for His­toric Preser­va­tion, a pri­vate non­profit, an­nounced that Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall at Lin­coln Univer­sity, out­side Philadel­phia, is on its list of 11 en­dan­gered his­toric places. The school was founded in 1854 as Ash­mun In­sti­tute and changed its name to Lin­coln Univer­sity in 1866, a year af­ter Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln’s as­sas­si­na­tion.

The trust de­scribes the an­nual list as a way of iden­ti­fy­ing “im­por­tant ex­am­ples of the na­tion’s ar­chi­tec­tural and cul­tural her­itage” that are at risk of de­struc­tion or dam­age.

“This is a great day for all who love Lin­coln Univer­sity and ap­pre­ci­ate its great his­tor­i­cal, cul­tural and ed­u­ca­tional legacy,” said Carol Black, pres­i­dent of the Lin­coln Univer­sity Her­itage Ini­tia­tive, which has led ef­forts to save the build­ing dat­ing from 1865. “Now Amer­ica has an op­por­tu­nity to help sta­bi­lize and pre­serve one of its most his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant and phys­i­cally threat­ened struc­tures.”

Be­ing listed as an en­dan­gered place can mo­bi­lize grass­roots and po­lit­i­cal sup­port along with fund­ing for preser­va­tion.

In 2013, the univer­sity floated the idea of de­mol­ish­ing Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall to make way for a wel­come cen­ter. Officials at the time said the build­ing, named in honor of grad­u­ates Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first pres­i­dent of Nige­ria af­ter in­de­pen­dence, and Kwame Nkrumah, the first pres­i­dent of Ghana, would be too costly to fix and ren­o­vate.

That led a group of alumni to form the preser­va­tion al­liance.

Richard Green, the univer­sity’s in­terim pres­i­dent, said in a state­ment the in­clu­sion of the hall on the list “is ap­pre­ci­ated” and speaks to the larger con­ver­sa­tion of the im­por­tance of his­tor­i­cally black uni­ver­si­ties as a whole.

How­ever, ar­chi­tects and plan­ners con­cluded due to the cur­rent state of the build­ing, it would be most cost-ef­fec­tive to cre­ate a new fa­cil­ity, he said. The state-funded re­de­vel­op­ment of the build­ing as a new wel­come cen­ter had been pub­licly des­ig­nated and au­tho­rized al­most 20 years ago, he said.

Green noted the univer­sity is eval­u­at­ing the con­di­tion and us­age of other older build­ings on cam­pus. Amos Hall, built in 1902, will be ren­o­vated to house a new Mu­seum Stud­ies pro­gram, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Barnes Foun­da­tion.

“Now Amer­ica has an op­por­tu­nity to help sta­bi­lize and pre­serve one of its most his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant and phys­i­cally threat­ened struc­tures.” — Carol Black, pres­i­dent of the Lin­coln Univer­sity Her­itage Ini­tia­tive

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