For years, Morris Brown College’s aging centerpiece seemed destined to fall victim to demolition by neglect.
Now, though, the historic Fountain Hall could be nearing salvation through preservation.
The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation recently dubbed Fountain Hall one of the “Top 10 Places in Peril,” and in November, the National Park Service awarded Morris Brown a $500,000 grant to help renovate the aging structure, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
For generations, Fountain Hall has been among the most recognizable structures west of downtown, the emblem of a black college established in the late 1800s on Atlanta’s Westside
Founded by former slaves just 17 years after slavery ended in America, Morris Brown lost its accreditation in 2002, due to unpaid debts and other financial mismanagement.
Since then, Fountain Hall has sat vacant, worrying historic preservationists it would meet the same fate as neighboring buildings on campus that have withered away.
David Mitchell, Atlanta Preservation Center director of operations, tells Curbed Atlanta the organization has considered much of Morris Brown’s campus, including Fountain Hall, endangered since 2007.
Much of the institution in recent years has deteriorated or crumbled completely; Gaines Hall and Furber Cottage burned, and the school’s main dormitory was razed.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to see Fountain Hall be restored and take its rightful place in telling the story of Atlanta postwar to the present,” Mitchell says.
The National Park Service has estimated Fountain Hall’s revival could cost upwards of $1.4 million, per the AJC.
Repairing the roof and installing a fire alarm system are first on the docket for the restoration.
Morris Brown leaders are also spearheading a $15 million capital campaign that could help the school earn accreditation with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges by 2020.