HAMPTON, Va. (Aug. 31, 2018) — Hampton University will receive $500,000 in grant funding from the National Park Service (NPS) for the Wigwam Preservation Project, with the goal of restoring the historic structure.
“Hampton University has a number of national historic properties on campus and Wigwam is one of them that has so much rich history surrounding it. Ten years after our founding as an institution to train recently freed African American slaves, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong pioneered the higher education of Native Americans in this country. Armstrong’s unprecedented step in American Indian education became Hampton’s American Indian Education Program, the forerunner of a system of off-reservation education. Wigwam was constructed to house those new American Indian students at Hampton,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey. “Hampton University is so very grateful for the opportunity to preserve the rich legacy of Wigwam and to maintain that history for the education of future generations.”
According to the United States Department of the Interior’s records, the enrollment of Native Americans at Hampton University in the late 19th century, necessitated the construction of additional dormitory space. The Wigwam, completed in 1878, is believed to have been designed by Charles D. Cake, superintendent of all early construction at the school. It is a red brick structure, 35 by 95 feet, and three stories tall with a basement. The building is characterized by bands of black brick, segmental arched openings, and a two-story central wooden porch. Due to its history and distinctive architectural features, Wigwam is listed in both the National Register of Historic Places, as well as in the Virginia Historic Landmarks Register. Wigwam is no longer utilized as a dormitory, but houses the Center for Public Policy, the Graduate College, the Office of the Vice President for Administrative Services, the Office of the Internal Auditor, Summer Sessions offices, and the Executive Leadership Summit offices.
“We welcome these needed funds which will help Virginia HBCUs maintain and restore historic structures that have played a significant role in their academic and cultural legacies,” said U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) in a joint statement. “These grants will allow Virginia schools to preserve these landmark buildings so that future generations can learn about their significance to the fight for equality in higher education.”
Historically Black Colleges and Universities 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. Because Wigwam has architectural, historical, and cultural significance, alleviating the threats to the existing building is a more feasible approach than replacing it completely.