The Miner building, which has been a prominent part of Howard University’s campus since its completion in 1913, is getting a $50 million renovation.
The project will breath new life into a century-old vision, which began with a dream from abolitionist and educator Myrtilla Miner: to create a secondary school for African American girls when none existed.
“This is a full circle moment,” said Howard University president Dr. Wayne Frederick, speaking at the Wednesday ceremony that announced the renovation.
“The opportunity that we have for what we intend to put in this building — a school of education and a middle school — speaks a lot to what we’re doing here at Howard,” he said.
The university is repurposing a 110-year-old building for modern educational needs and standards, including those for natural light, space and technology.
The goal is to “create that balance between historic preservation, and also bringing this building up to modernization,” said Howard alumna and lead architect for the project Keisha Wilson.
The university plans to use as much of the original building as possible.
For instance, the palladium windows on the building, while aesthetically pleasing, aren’t so great for energy efficiency.
There are constraints on how those changes can be made, because the building is on the historic registry.
“The HVAC systems, heating, cooling, ventilation, etc. all has to be robust enough to factor in that those windows will leak,” said Derreck Neic Williams of Howard University Architecture and Development.
Equally important is the inspiration generated by the building, and what it stands for, to students over the intervening century.
The 80,000-some square foot space will also be home to a middle school for STEM students.
“This new space promises to be a true safe haven for learning,” said middle school student Jackson Trinidad. “There will be so much space for us to learn and grow.”
The creation of the Miner building as an institution wasn’t without opposition: the mayor of D.C. at the time said there weren’t opportunities for African Americans, that the institution would educate them beyond their political and social conditions, and that in turn it would only create a restless population.
But that restlessness led to generations steeped in the importance of educating, and in creating educators. Miner Teacher’s College would eventually become the seed for today’s University of the District of Columbia.
Now, on Howard’s campus, the old halls will soon return to serving as a portal to progress.
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