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Morgan State University named a national treasure

Nation’s largest preservation organization partners with Morgan State University to protect historic buildings on campus

5/4/2016, 11 a.m.
In the latest significant effort towards preserving the rich cultural legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the National ...
Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation announces Morgan's designation as a National Treasure. Morgan President David Wilson looks on (Photo courtesy/Morgan State University)

— In the latest significant effort towards preserving the rich cultural legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently named Morgan State University a National Treasure. The National Trust and Morgan State University have partnered to develop a preservation plan that stewards the many historic buildings on campus, while planning wisely for the university’s future.

“The National Trust believes Historically Black Colleges and Universities tell an important and often overlooked American story,” said Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We are proud to partner with Morgan State University-- a nationally-recognized innovator and education leader-- to demonstrate how the preservation of their remarkable older buildings can be a springboard for growth, rejuvenation, and revitalization.”

Morgan State University's iconic Holmes Hall and the Academic Quad

(Photo courtesy/Morgan State University)

Morgan State University's iconic Holmes Hall and the Academic Quad

Founded in 1867 as one of the nation’s earliest institutions to offer post-secondary education for African Americans and the largest in the state of Maryland, Morgan State University’s urban campus has an impressive collection of historic buildings. The University’s varied built landscape now features 20 contributing structures—ranging from Classical and Italianate to Modern and Brutalist—eligible for listing on the National Register. Buildings on the campus were designed by pioneering and celebrated black architects such as Albert Cassell, Hilyard Robinson, Louis Fry, and Leon Bridges.

“We have known of Morgan’s significance on the higher education stage for many years and now, as we prepare to celebrate our 150thanniversary, the world will know that, in fact, this university is a national treasure,” said David Wilson, president of Morgan State University. “We are very excited and honored by this designation from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In many ways, it is recognition of the value we have placed on caring for and preserving the history of the great Morgan State University.”

Under the leadership of President David Wilson and Dean Akers of the School of Architecture, the University has made positive strides to preserve portions of the campus, including the restoration of University Chapel, the only building individually listed on the National Register at present. In addition, Morgan State University is home to one of six HBCU accredited architecture programs and the only one actively seeking accreditation in historic preservation.

This designation by the nation’s leading preservation organization recognizes Morgan State University’s historic significance as an HBCU and its status as a compelling example of the challenges that colleges across the country face in stewarding their historic buildings while redeveloping their historic campuses.

As a National Treasure, Morgan State joins a growing portfolio of historic sites and marks the second HBCU, along with Howard University in Washington, D.C., where the National Trust for Historic Preservation is actively working. The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s dedicated involvement with America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities dates back to 1998 when HBCUs across the country made the America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. Additionally, the National Trust has worked over the years with Congress to get Historic Preservation Funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities reauthorized—securing more than $61 million in the restoration of historic buildings on HBCU campuses.

To learn more about the Morgan State University National Treasure, visit www.savingplaces.org.