The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) has partnered with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) around the nation to encourage the entry of young black scholars into preservation efforts, including that of historic sites.
With aid from the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the National Park Service, six Morgan State students will run the first trial of the program spearheaded by the NTHP’s Hope Crew. Using their backgrounds in architecture, the students will pool their minds together and redevelop the Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture, which, according to (NTHP), is the oldest museum in the U.S.
Once accepted, Morgan State students Ariel Allen, Tiffany Dockins, Nathaniel Mitchell, Jamil Nelson, Taylor Proctor and Monique Robinson began their introduction to preservation with small efforts on aging buildings by evaluating the location’s structures and landscape before providing hands-on treatment.
“Beyond addressing deferred maintenance at historic sites, the success of HOPE Crew highlights a hands-on approach to saving places that are making a positive difference in the lives of future preservationists and the communities where they serve,” Associate Director of the National Trust’s Hope Crew, Monica Rhodes, told Blavity in an email. “We’re excited to continue broadening the preservation movement and to raising awareness of the cultural legacy of HBCUs with this new partnership – allowing African American college students to see what happens when theory meets practice in preservation trades.”
The students are set to rehabilitate the Peale Center’s courtyard and visit historic sites in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. For some, the conscious restoration of these locations not only serves as a method of preserving history but also draws awareness to the continuing history of their hometowns.
“Living in Baltimore, surrounded by history, and, now, learning about preservation, makes me more aware of the need to save these historic places for the future,” participating student Taylor Proctor said. “If many of our historic places disappear, we would lose the fabric that gives Baltimore its identity. ”
Ending the program, the students will detail reasons supporting why restoration is vital. With Morgan State recently being named a National Treasure, the university is open to preservation plans, which the students, after their NTHP training, may have a chance in which to participate.