Morris Brown College announced that it had received an award from the National Park Service (NPS) Historically Black Colleges and Universities Grant Program to begin restoration of historic Fountain Hall.
The restoration also includes two stained glass windows in honor of the founder of the University of Atlanta, the Rev. EA Ware and his wife Jane Twichwell Ware. Built in 1882, the then Stone Hall was the third oldest building on the University of Atlanta campus. The office of the late black scholar, teacher and author, Dr WEB Du Bois, was in Fountain Hall. Legend has it that he looked out the windows towards downtown Atlanta as he wrote “The Souls of Black Folk (1903)”. Du Bois also wrote “A Litany of Atlanta” (October 1906) immediately after the Atlanta Race Massacre of 1906, which will commemorate the 115th Memorial from September 22 to 25, 2021.
Morris Brown College, Friends of Fountain Hall and the Atlanta branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) to leverage NPS HBCU grant to attract matching donations from the wider business community for a full accreditation campaign and full window treatment.
“Funtain Hall is an iconic symbol of Morris Brown College,” said Morris Brown College President Dr Kevin James. “I compare it to strength and persistence. A historical monument built in 1882 by former slaves. People who have been to Morris Brown College know Fountain Hall very well. They took classes there, they had a chapel, they joined fraternities and sororities in the building. Dr WEB Du Bois’s office was on the second floor, so it is historic in itself.
“We couldn’t restore the school without restoring this building,” he continued. “We are just very, very happy to be working with Dr. Tate and others to raise funds to restore the building. This next round of funds is to restore the windows, we just put a new roof on the building. We wanted to prevent further deterioration from occurring, so we put on a new roof just to seal it. A new clock, a new bell, all of those things. We are delighted that the alumni see that we are making progress in this building and we are very, very excited about it. “
Morris Brown College has also launched the Strong Tower campaign which is designed to match the NPS grant and launched on Labor Day and plans to run until the end of Black History Month. The history of the Clock Tower remains an important building on the original University of Atlanta campus, as it was built on a hill between Gaines Hall and South Hall, housing faculty offices, classrooms and a chapel.
“We will need the Fountain Hall for classrooms and academic services as we work on a full restoration,” James said in a press release. “We will continue to pursue our goal of fully restoring Fountain Hall.”
The building moved to Morris Brown College in the early 1930s and was later renamed Stone Hall into Fountain Hall in honor of the former college president, Bishop William A. Fountain.
According to the site fontainehallatl.org, the tower had been barricaded and unused since 2003 and has since been the victim of vandalism and weather intrusion. Lack of maintenance has also resulted in a compromised structure and if left unattended it could be the victim of a fire.
“The stained glass windows that adorn the Dr. Viola J. Hill Chapel area of Fountain Hall were a gift from a class of alumni, and we look forward to being able to ‘have chapel services’ again, show movies and to host conferences with the community in the space where Du Bois gathered leaders each year from 1896 to 1914, as he worked to find solutions at the Atlanta Conference on Black Problems, ”Dr. R. Candy Tate, grant author and chairman of the Hallowed Grounds Committee of the Atlanta branch of ASALH said in a press release.
The bell was supposed to be struck to mark this phase of restoration, but Dr Tate says the bell was not struck but will be during Morris Brown’s reunion festivities.
Tate managed to write enough grants to contribute $ 1.5 million to the cause with three grants.
“It’s the whole building,” Tate said. This third grant is intended to replace the windows and the stained glass windows in the chapel have dedicated windows to EA Ware and his wife Jane who were both white missionaries from Yale who came to found the University of Atlanta. This is our story and the progress in Atlanta of this too busy to hate city shows whites and blacks working together. In the segregated south, this educational experience took place on these sacred lands. “
Fundraising for the total restoration, estimated at $ 30 million, is underway.
“HBCUs have been an important part of the American education system for over 180 years, providing top academics, opportunities and community to generations of students,” NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge said in a statement. Press release. “The National Park Service’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Grants Program provides assistance in preserving remarkable structures that honor the past and tell the continuing story of these historic institutions.”