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HBCU Virginia Union University Awarded $500,000 Historic Preservation Grant from the National Park Service

Pickford Hall at Virginia Union University. Morgan Riley / Wikimedia Commons

The following is from a press release that was sent to Watch The Yard by Virginia Union University.

Virginia Union University (VUU) has received a $500,000 grant from the National Parks Services (NPS) through the African-American Civil Rights Grant Program. VUU will use the grant to renovate the Belgian Building which will include a new HVAC system in the Barco-Stevens Gymnasium.

“Historic Preservation is important to VUU as we work to ensure the legacy of our campus and its infrastructure,” says Dr. Hakim J. Lucas, VUU President & CEO. “VUU is strategically focused on maintaining our rich history while also providing an innovative and enriching learning environment for our students.”

The NPS grant was awarded to 44 projects across 17 states to help preserve and highlight stories related to the African-American struggle for equality in the 20th century. VUU is one of three Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in Virginia to receive the funding which was appropriated by Congress in 2018 through the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). The HPF uses revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf, providing assistance for a broad range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars. Grant-supported projects include surveys and documentation, interpretation and education, oral histories, architectural services, historic structure reports, planning, and physical preservation.

The Belgian building was part of the Belgian Exhibition at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. When the dismantling and shipping of the building back to Belgium was deemed impossible, VUU successfully lobbied to relocate it to Richmond. It was rebuilt on the VUU campus and eventually converted to house the Department of Fine Arts, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics & Community Wellness, and the Barco-Stevens Gymnasium. Earlier in the year, VUU also received a $500,000 NPS grant for Historic Preservation for the restoration and renovation of the Historic Huntley Hall. The residence hall is expected to reopen in Fall 2020.