Southern University Archives Building Restoration

Digest File

In 1914, Southern University moved from their New Orleans location to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. During the construction of the campus the Archives building was made near the home of the original University President. A landmark often referred to as “The Little White House," can be found in front of The Bluff, near the Mayberry Dining Hall. It was said that the Archives building was the only habitable building once moved. In the early years of the University it was used for various reasons like being the home for the University President, a women’s residence, a social center, a dining hall, and an infirmary. Of course, this changed over the years. Ray L. Belton, President-Chancellor of the Southern University System, says that “the Archives Building stands for humble beginnings.” He also says that “…it is used as an opportunity for us to honor the founders of the university.”

Dr. Robyn Merrick, SU’s system Vice President for External Affairs, said that the building is undergoing rehabilitation. Once that is completed it will have historic artifacts and information about the University. Also, it will be made into an interpretive center that is open to the students, faculty, and staff. It will also be open to the Scotlandville community and other visitors. It was reported on November 9, 2020, that the National Park Service announced a grant of about $500,000 to Southern University and A&M College.

The total amount given to Southern was $499,983. The grant is a part of a $7.7 million package that was divided amongst 12 different HBCUs, including Southern University. The money given will be directed to the oldest building on the campus, being the Archives Building. The money will go to rehabilitate and supply physical learning opportunities for the students at the University. The rehabilitation is said to be completed by mid-2021 and will be overseen by the Office of Facility Services. This grant is one of 18 awarded grants to HBCUs. According to David Vela, former Deputy Director of the National Park Services, “The grants help us to honor the legacy of HBCUs in serving our nation’s higher education needs.”

While being the oldest, the Archives Building is not very known to some of the students at Southern University. When asked about it they would not know the name of the building. That is unless you refer to it as, “The Little White House”, or “The White House near the Bluff.” Because of that, it was complicated to interview students around the campus.

However, after explaining what would be happening to the Archives building to the students, they had a few things to say about it. Christian Hall, a freshman Engineering major from Houston Texas, says that he “…believes the grant will have a positive effect on the campus.” He also says that “…this may bring more attention to Southern University.”

Stephen Percival, a freshman Biology major from Pearland Texas, also thinks this will be good for the University. She says that “It’ll be a great opportunity for students to learn about the history and legacy of the university. Congrats to them!”

Many positive comments are being made about the grant given to Southern University. The Archives Building is an important landmark to the campus. This will grant students and visitors the opportunity to gain experience in the legacy of Southern University. Congratulations to every HBCU that was given this award!

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