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Benedict College to restore Morgan Hall thanks to National Park Service grant

Benedict College was awarded a $500,000 African American Civil Rights grant from the National Park.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Benedict College will receive a $500,000 grant from the National Park Service to continue its efforts to restore its historic Morgan Hall, thanks to an African American Civil Rights grant.

Built in 1895, Morgan Hall is the former home of five Benedict College presidents and the current home of Institutional Advancement.

School officials say the grant will help them to preserve critical narratives of the people, places, and events associated with the African American Civil Rights movement.

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“Buildings like Morgan Hall are a rare treasure that contain a wealth of institutional history,” said Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, President, and CEO of Benedict College. 

Officials with Benedict College, a private, Historically Black College in Columbia, South Carolina, plans to use the $500,000 grant from the National Park Service to implement the Morgan Hall Preservation Project II.  

Morgan Hall is one of five buildings in the College’s Historic District. The district was placed on the National Register on April 23, 1987, and officials say it has played a significant role in the African American civil rights story and the struggle for equality.  

Morgan Hall has distinct characteristics of the late Victorian time-period with a gable and hip roof, wrap around porch, and corbeled chimneys.  

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Officials say the primary goal is to architecturally and structurally preserve Morgan Hall by mitigating the threat of water infiltration. The school plans to refurbish the close to 50 windows located throughout the building.

Morgan Hall is the oldest of the Historic District’s buildings and was constructed in 1895. Since its erection, Morgan Hall has been the visual representation of Benedict College.

The building was originally constructed with a $9,000 contribution from the American Baptist Home Mission Society and was named in honor of Thomas J. Morgan, a former executive secretary of the American Baptist Home Mission Society and editor of the Society’s influential Home Mission Monthly.

RELATED: Benedict College receives $65,000 to preserve historic campus building

Morgan was instrumental in the establishing the technical departments at Benedict College. School officials say he encouraged HBCUs in general to create programs for Blacks to become architects, artists, engineers, and master mechanics.

From 1895 - 1965, Morgan Hall served as home to five Presidents: Rev. Abraham Osborn (1895 - 1911), Rev. Byron W. Valentine (1911- 1921), Dr. Clarence B. Antisdel (1921 - 1930), Dr. John H. Starks (1930 - 1944), and Dr. John Alvin Bacoats (1944 - 1965). Morgan Hall housed classrooms and offices from 1965-1987 and was then closed pending renovations.  It now houses the Division of Institutional Advancement, which welcomes members of the community daily.  

RELATED: New history trail explores Reconstruction Era in Columbia

Benedict College, and subsequently Morgan Hall, played a significant role in the African American Civil Rights Movement and the struggle for equality before, during, and after segregation. The institution’s founding is an example of the pattern of educating newly emancipated slaves after Reconstruction.   During the plight of racial discrimination, the institution served as one of the most significant centers of black activities in the city of Columbia.

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