By Kimberly Harrington
Livingstone News Service
The National Park Service announced Monday that Livingstone College received a $500,000 grant to help rehabilitate its Andrew Carnegie Library.
The grant award, funded through the Historic Preservation Fund and administered by the National Park Service (NPS), was announced Aug. 27 as part of $8.6 million in total grant funding to support projects that preserve significant historic structures on the campuses of 18 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
“This award will enable Livingstone College to repair the roof, update the HVAC and electrical systems, and install more connections for high speed internet,” said Dr. Carolyn Duncan, vice president of Academic Affairs and author of the grant. “We will bring in 21st Century conveniences for our public while retaining the historical grandness that makes this building so special.”
Laura Johnson, library director, had been looking for funding grants to preserve the 110-year-old library for several years. In 2017, Livingstone College President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., formed the Federal Grants and Contracts Committee, which began seeking a funding project.
The committee and Johnson started working together in the fall of 2017, collecting historical information, quotes from contractors and input from people such as Karen Hobson of the Historic Salisbury Foundation.
“Hobson loves historical buildings and wants to preserve them for the heritage they add to the community,” Duncan said.
Duncan, who is also a Livingstone College graduate, led the committee in crafting the winning proposal. “It was a labor of love,” she said. “It was heartbreaking to see such a magnificent building start to deteriorate.”
“We are extremely honored and excited to be a recipient of this half-million-dollar award, which allows us to sustain the Andrew Carnegie Library, and support learning and teaching throughout the school,” Jenkins said. “We are grateful to the National Park Service for their support to HBCUs in historic preservation as we strive to advance in a global economy.”
Jenkins also said he is appreciative to the Federal Grants and Contracts Committee; Laura Johnson; and Dr. Duncan for their commitment and hard work on the project.
“HBCUs have played an important role in our country’s pursuit of equality, civil rights and higher education for all Americans,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith. “These grants will help restore and enhance landmark buildings that are a source of pride on campuses in nine states.”
These HBCU grants support the preservation of sites on HBCU campuses that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Eligible projects include pre-preservation studies, architectural plans and specifications, historic structure reports, and the repair and rehabilitation of historic properties according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
More on the library
The Andrew Carnegie Library began in 1893 on the second floor of what was then known as Hunnington Hall. Dr. W.H. Golar, Livingstone president at the time, Dr. Booker T. Washington and Bishop George C. Clinton secured $12,500 from Andrew Carnegie in 1905 for the construction of the first library building on campus.
The building was named in honor of its donor, Andrew Carnegie, an American industrialist and philanthropist. The facility was dedicated in 1908.
Due to increased enrollment and expanding collections, the library’s size became inadequate. The first expansion was in 1948 thanks to a generous donation from the General Education Board. The second expansion occurred in 1958, doubling stack capacity and seating capacity. A third edition provided several luxuries, including carpeting for the floors, air conditioning and a new basement.
The current collection contains more than 60,000 volumes housed in general and reference stack areas. Special collections include the African-American Collection, a small American Methodist Episcopal Zion Church collection, as well as some private collections of local scholars.