Trigg Hall, an iconic structure on the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s original campus footprint, has qualified for a $500,000 federal grant to pay for modernization of the seven-decade-old building. 

The university received confirmation earlier this month it will receive the money through the “Historically Black Colleges and Universities grant program funded by the Historic Preservation Fund, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Park Service.”  

UMES is one of 20 HBCUs across the country to share some $9.7 million in funding in the latest round of grants from the federal program. 

The grant will be combined with $989,020 from academic revenue bonds to pay for “repair or replacement of doors, windows, roof, foundation, floor, siding and all the components such as structural masonry and insulation,” according to Lester Primus, UMES’ vice president of administration and finance.  Installation of energy-efficient lighting and updated mechanical heating and cooling systems are also part of the plan. 

“As the headquarters for the (university’s) Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences, Trigg Hall is vital to our core mission of educating the workforce of the future,” said Dr. Moses Kairo, dean of the School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences.

“The proposed upgrades will create an environment conducive to the effective delivery of academic programs. Furthermore, minimizing the frequent failure of critical systems in the building will ensure that research activities proceed without interruption,” Kairo said. “We are truly grateful to the National Park Service for facilitating upgrades to such a beautiful building.”

Trigg Hall is among 13 buildings that define UMES’ historic Academic Oval, which holds National Register of Historic Places status – a well-known U.S. Department of Interior / National Parks Service program. 

Here’s an excerpt of how a Department of Interior evaluator described the structure in a 2005 report endorsing the university’s application for historic place status: 

“Completed in 1954, Trigg Hall is sited atop an artificial terrace with a bold Ionic (column) portico dominating the center block. (The two-story structure) is spanned by a broad hip roof, covered with slate, with brick chimneys. The roof and portico are enriched with a modillion block cornice. Flanking the main (section) are long two-story, five-bay hip roofed wings finished in similar, but less intricate, Colonial Revival details.”

Trigg Hall is named for Frank Trigg, the institution’s fourth leader who was born a slave and earned a degree at Hampton after being emancipated.  He went on to become a widely respected educator in his native Virginia and North Carolina in addition to his eight years in Princess Anne. 

“HBCUs have been an important part of the American education system for more than 180 years, providing high-level academics, opportunities, and community for generations of students,” said Shawn Benge, the National Park Service’s deputy director. “The National Park Service’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Grant Program provides assistance to preserve noteworthy structures that honor the past and tell the ongoing story of these historic institutions.” 

The National Park Service has awarded $77.6 million in grants to 66 HBCUs since its inception in 1995. Congress appropriates funding for the program through the Historic Preservation Fund, which utilizes revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf to provide assistance for a broad range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars. 

Projects funded by these grants, the Department of the Interior said, will support “the physical preservation of National Register listed sites on HBCU campuses to include historic districts, buildings, sites, structures, and objects.”

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