Historically Black College and University Architecture Students Kickoff National Hands-On Preservation Training Program
The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s HOPE Crew piloted a program today to bring future African American professionals into historic preservation and related career paths by partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). HOPE (Hands-On Preservation Experience) Crew is a nationwide initiative connecting hundreds of young people to preservation trades while breathing new life into historic structures across the country.
Funded in part by the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, in partnership with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the National Park Service, the new program’s first project consists of a HOPE Crew team of six Morgan State University architecture students training and working to rehabilitate the oldest museum building in the United States—the Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture in Maryland.
Built in 1814 by Rembrandt Peale, a member of the first family of American artists, the Peale Center is a Federal Period townhouse with a rear gallery extension that was used as Baltimore City Hall for many years. It later served as the Municipal Museum of the City of Baltimore until it closed in 1997 due to lack of funds. It sat vacant for 20 years until it was reopened last year as a city cultural center.
“Beyond addressing deferred maintenance at historic sites, the success of HOPE Crew highlights a hands-on approach to saving places that is making a positive difference in the lives of future preservationists and the communities where they serve,” said Monica Rhodes, associate director of the National Trust’s HOPE Crew. “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.”
Prior to getting to work on the Peale Center, the students, Akiel Allen, Tiffany Dockins, Nathaniel Mitchell, Jamil Nelson, Taylor Proctor, and Monique Robinson, were trained at the National Park Service’s Western Center for Historic Preservation in Wyoming on the guiding principles for field-based historic preservation, documentation, hands-on treatment, and heritage asset maintenance planning. They visited Bill Menor’s homestead buildings, Menor’s Ferry, and the Maud Noble cluster in Grand Teton National Park, and identified small and large treatment work to be performed, and evaluated them against the U.S. Department of the Interior’s standards. They also assessed the current condition of the site, structures, and landscape features.
“Through this program, we hope to bring more African American young professionals into historic preservation; American craftsmanship; and related fields, such as architecture, landscape design, and urban, regional, and community planning,” said Milford Wayne Donaldson, chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. “The preservation community should reflect the diversity of our nation as we work together to capture the true stories—from slaves and abolitionists, to soldiers, and entrepreneurs—that should be preserved in historic places and historic parks.”
Following rehabilitation of the Peale Center’s courtyard, from July 23–27, the Morgan State students will undergo additional training at the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center in Frederick, Maryland. During their final week, July 30–August 4, they will take field trips to historic places in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area.
“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,” said Taylor Proctor, a Morgan State University architecture student. “If many of our historic places disappear, we would lose the fabric that gives Baltimore its identity.”
As a final task, the students will create a portfolio that will point out the importance of preserving and restoring the historic buildings that are a part of the Morgan State University campus. Morgan State has 20 structures eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, in 2016, the National Trust designated Morgan State as one of its National Treasures and is partnering with the school to develop a preservation plan.
To learn more about the National Trust’s ongoing campaign to save African American historic sites and empower youth through hands-on preservation experience, please visit: SavingPlaces.org/AACHAF.
About HOPE Crew
An initiative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, HOPE Crew trains young people in preservation crafts while helping to protect historic cultural sites on public lands. Named for “Hands-On Preservation Experience,” the program links preservation projects to the national youth corps movement, as well as launch special volunteer efforts nationwide. Since the start of the program in 2014, HOPE Crew has completed more than 150 projects, trained over one thousand young people (including veterans) in preservation trades, performed more than $18 million of preservation work and recruited thousands of volunteers to protect places that are significant to their communities. savingplaces.org/hope-crew