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Students Help Preserve Historic Tuskegee Buildings

Students help preserve historic Tuskegee buildings

Kayla Heard of Mobile went to Tuskegee University to study architecture. Now in her third year, she has developed a passion and career interest in historic preservation.

The beauty of studying at the only HBCU school designated National Historic Site is that her college campus is also a hands-on classroom.

In August, Heard and five other Tuskegee architecture students were selected to participate in a national historic preservation program developed by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the National Park Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Heard and her classmates became a National Trust for Historic Preservation HOPE Crew (Hands On Preservation Experience), and spent two weeks meticulously restoring windows in Tuskegee’s Willcox E Building. The Tuskegee Hope Crew includes architecture students Heard, Trenton Scott, Rikeya Wallace, Domonique Jiles, Ty’kwon Summerville, and Tyler Littles.

Prior to working on their own campus, the students traveled with Daniels to learn about historic landscapes, heritage areas, 3-D laser scanning, and the research work done at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

They also studied at the National Park Service’s Western Center for Historic Preservation, in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, and spent time at the Bar BC Dude Ranch, established in 1912. There they completed the “Guiding Principles for Historic Preservation,” a course on field-based historic preservation, documentation, hands-on treatment, and heritage asset maintenance planning.

Heard said she jumped at the opportunity to take part in the program when her professor brought it to her.

“I pretty much take any opportunity that’s given to me,” she said. “I heard travel, I heard learning new stuff, and I said, ‘Sign me up.”

Katherine Malone-France, chief preservation officer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said working at Tuskegee University, founded in 1881 by Booker T. Washington, was an opportunity both for the historic preservation organizations and the students who did the work.

“HOPE Crew provides an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of the next generation of preservation leaders, while at the same time, addressing critical maintenance and preservation needs at some of America’s most important historic places,” said Malone-France. “We’re excited to be here at one of America’s foremost HBCU campuses to participate in this partnership and give these students an opportunity to see first-hand how they can make a difference in preserving historic places.”

Shelly Haskins writes about points of pride statewide. Email your suggestions to shaskins@al.com, or tweet them to @Shelly_Haskins using #AlabamaProud.

This article originally appeared in The Westside Gazette.