Saint Augustine's University receives new HBCU grant to renovate historic building

A historic, vacant building at Saint Augustine's University is getting new life thanks to a $500,000 grant.

The school's chancellor told ABC11 that Hermitage Hall will become a student success center.

"It will provide a teaching and learning and experience environment that tells students, 'You are welcome here. You have a space where you can learn and develop,'" Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail said.

Chancellor Johnson McPhail said she almost did the happy dance following the grant announcement.

Hermitage Hall was built in 1914 as an industrial lab for Black students to learn skills in Carpentry, masonry and domestic work.

It later became an infirmary and then a residence hall before it closed indefinitely in the early 2000s for much needed repairs.

The Historic Preservation Fund is providing $499,000 dollars administered by the National Park Service Department of the Interior.

That money going toward redesign plans, interior upgrades.

Phase two of the renovation project will be begin in 2023.

The university says it will seek more grant funds to modernize the facility.
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