Cheyney College Advances Plans To Restore 240-Yr-Previous Campus Cottage, Convert To Welcome Heart

Courtesy of Cheyney College of Pennsylvania

As a part of Cheyney College of Pennsylvania’s efforts to rework its campus by preserving historical past and creating state-of-the-art services, the college will restore the Melrose Cottage, initially constructed within the late 1700s, and convert the construction right into a Welcome Heart that can entice, exhibit, and educate present and future generations in regards to the nation’s first Traditionally Black School and College (HBCU).

With the challenge supported by the Semiquincentennial Grant Program funded by the Historic Preservation Fund as administered by the Nationwide Park Service, Division of Inside, Cheyney will make the most of the $500,000 grant to embark restoration course of to renovate the outside façade and inside house to transform the Melrose Cottage right into a multi-functional facility. The 2-and-a-half-story cottage was the house of relations who bequeathed what was as soon as farmland into the campus to create the varsity. The house, which is positioned on the southern fringe of the quadrangle, was initially utilized by the college because the president’s residence. It was positioned on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations in 1986.

“The funding will enable the required restoration efforts to proceed, and result in the re-opening of the ability in addition to the flexibility to display its historical past and contribution to the event of America,” stated President Aaron A. Walton.

The restoration of the ability will convert the house to be primarily used as a Welcome Heart and gateway into exploring the historical past and evolution of teaching numerous communities within the nation. It’s going to show a portion of the college’s particular assortment of historic information and it’ll embody a present store by which Cheyney-specific and different regionally important souvenirs may be bought. The college additionally plans to relocate its Admissions workplace to the constructing and prepare workers and college students to be campus and neighborhood guides.

“We’ll retain strategic design professionals with expertise within the restoration of historic buildings,” stated Mae B. Stephens, Director of Title III/Grants Administration. “That is an unbelievable alternative to protect our historical past whereas supporting our efforts to develop throughout our campus.”

The Melrose Cottage was residence to generations of Quakers, who primarily opposed slavery and slavery practices. The farmstead on which the cottage stands was carved from the substantial, landholdings of John and Thomas Cheyney, Quaker farmers. The stone cottage was constructed on the property earlier than 1785 and sections have been added to the construction over time. It was the house of Mary H. Cheyney, who grew up in the home and pursued a medical profession. She selected to follow exterior of a significant metropolis and handled each Black and White sufferers at a time when most White physicians wouldn’t see Black sufferers. She was additionally listed as the one lady doctor on a workers of eight docs on the opening of the West Chester Hospital in 1892.

The cottage served because the president’s home from 1903 till 1968, with its interval of best significance through the administration of Dr. Leslie P. Hill, famous educator, poet and humanitarian. Dr. Hill turned principal on the Philadelphia Institute for Coloured Youth in 1913. He remained till 1951 and oversaw title adjustments and the standing of the varsity.

“The cottage performed a significant position in its use through the major institution of recent day Cheyney College. We wish the Welcome Heart to be the primary cease for each one who involves Cheyney, equipping them with data about our college earlier than they’ll discover it for themselves,” stated President Walton.

The cottage has been utterly offline, and the final work accomplished was in 2004 to assist protect the outside and construction. There aren’t any inside techniques, aesthetical finishes, or infrastructure that might enable the opening and use of the ability for the general public. Moreover, the latest escalation of extreme storms within the Southeast Pennsylvania space additionally exacerbated the risk to the deterioration of the construction.

After profitable completion of the challenge, the college will assign assets essential to function and preserve the ability and web site yearly. The sustainability plan will embody upkeep, custodial and grounds, contract providers for all techniques, and utilities. The college may even coordinate with native historic societies and affinity teams to ascertain a “Associates of Melrose Cottage” fund, a restricted fund established to allow particular person and institutional donors to help the upkeep of the constructing.

“The CheyneyMade story might be featured to reveal and educate a brand new era of learners in regards to the affect of variety, the necessity for inclusivity, and the crucial to be socially accountable people in an ever-changing world,” stated President Walton.

Cheyney is one in every of a number of recipients to obtain a grant from the Nationwide Park Providers inaugural spherical of funding for the Semiquincentennial Grant Program. This system was created by Congress in 2020 and funded by the Historic Preservation Fund. The preliminary spherical totaling $7 million in grants will help 17 cultural useful resource preservation tasks throughout 12 states.

“Nationwide parks and Nationwide Park Service packages serve to inform genuine and full historical past, present alternatives for exploring the legacies that affect us immediately and contribute to therapeutic and understanding,” stated NPS Director Chuck Sams. “By the Semiquincentennial Grant Program, we’re supporting tasks that showcase the numerous locations and tales that contributed to the evolution of the American expertise.”


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