Miles College in Fairfield has been awarded nearly $500,000 in National Park Service funds to restore Williams Hall, the oldest building on campus and the site of several important Civil Rights Era events.
Miles was founded in 1898 and Williams Hall was built in 1907.
“The preservation, renovation and rehabilitation of Williams Hall will document, and preserve, the site of many stories related to the African American struggle to gain equal rights as citizens in the 20th Century,” the college said in a written statement.
The federal funding is part of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities grant program of the Historic Preservation Fund. Money for that fund comes from federal outer continental shelf oil leases.
“We are honored to be one of the recipients of this grant from the National Park Service,” said Miles College President Bobbie Knight. “This grant provides a significant contribution to the restoration of historic Williams Hall, breathing life back into a building that has played an indelible role in the history of our institution and has a significant position in our future.”
The college plans to use the historic building “as a teaching museum to honor the founders, students, alumni, and the College’s role in the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement,” the college said.
“HBCU campuses have played a pivotal role in American history, especially in our nation’s struggle for civil rights, and those sites must be preserved,” said U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, who helped Miles secure the funding. “We must continue to invest in HBCUs like Miles College. We need them now more than ever.”