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S.C. State gets preservation grant; National Park Service provides $50,000 for Wilkinson Hall
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S.C. State gets preservation grant; National Park Service provides $50,000 for Wilkinson Hall

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South Carolina State University's restoration of Wilkinson Hall continues with $50,000 awarded by the National Park Service

South Carolina State University has received another grant to help preserve Wilkinson Hall.

The university will receive $50,000 through the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Grant Program, which is funded by the National Park Service.

"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," South Carolina State University President James E. Clark said in a release.

The grant will pay for additional forensic analysis and assessment of Wilkinson Hall to support the ongoing restoration and renovation process.

It 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 $50,000 grant is the second to be awarded for the preservation of Wilkinson Hall. In 2018, S.C. State received a $500,000 grant to fund an initial assessment of the building as well as the weatherization of the building.

"Thus far, we have received two awards totaling $550,000 from the National Park Service,” Clark said. “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."

Michael Allen, a 1982 graduate of S.C. State, 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 (the 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 reflects the history of the university, and demonstrates that the university respects its history and legacy through its buildings," Allen said.

Allen described his experiences as a student at S.C. 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 S.C. State, which makes safeguarding its history an important part of their lives.

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

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 S.C. 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 HBCUs.

"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."

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

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