Buildings hold sentimental value


One hundred twenty-five years has brought about many changes to the architecture on Florida A&M.

 Some  historic  buildings still standing were constructed over 100 years ago, but renovation, restoration and reconstruction have managed to not only modernize the structures but preserve the rich history of Florida A&M University.

 “Every building has its own story and purpose, it’s hard to pick a favorite,” said Murell Dawson, director of the Meek Eaton Black Archives Research Center and Museum. Dawson is an alumna of FAMU and returned as a professional. 

The Black Archives is housed inside of what was the Carnegie Library, the oldest brick and second oldest building on campus.  It has been transformed over the years. First it was the main library on campus, then an art center and later a religious center. 

In the 1970s, it became a museum that showcased history of African American people and those of African descent, displaying ancient artifacts, books and papers. It was also registered in the National Registry. In 2006, the expanded facility joined the Carnegie library. 

Dawson’s favorite feature on campus is actually not a structure, but pieces of nature. “I love the oak trees on campus,” she said.

 There are more than 20 tagged historic oak trees , some hundreds of years old. The oldest sits right behind the Black Archives building and is more than 200 years old. 

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the entire campus of FAMU was listed in the National Registry of Historic Places as a federal historic district on May 6, 1996. That recognition was based on the school’s history, architectural style and achievements of students, faculty and staff. 

Interesting and historic sites on campus include a time capsule, buried in 1987 that marked the school’s centennial celebration. The landscape and look of the campus has come a long way from its start in 1887, and is on its way to even greater heights.

Karen Brown, associate director of Plant Operations, said the renovations within the last five years have continued to keep the university on a path toward a great vision. 

“There have been several major renovations in the school’s historic district,” said Brown,”including a major overhaul of Jones Hall, the restoration of Carnegie Library and the major restoration of the Sampson and Young residential halls.”

Within the next 10 years, Brown said there will be even more changes made. 

“Additional housing, an enhanced stadium, more parking decks and a renovated student union center are just a few of the plans lined up.” 

Jeremiah Way, a fourth year health care management student from Jacksonville, is a campus tour guide who takes the time to acknowledge the history on campus and share it with visitors. 

“I like to showcase interesting facts about the school that most people don’t know, like the career center being a former hotel and Tucker Hall housing the largest amount of students,” said Way. 

Learning all the information about the university came easy to Way and only took him about a week and a half. “I enjoy giving tours because I feel like I can be an advocate for our great school and help with recruitment.” 

Dawson calls this feeling “liberating”, to have such names on campus. FAMU’s preservation and its listing  as a federal historic district means that buildings on campus cannot be torn down. The buildings comprise a larger entity that is a national historic landmark and is very valuable to not only the country, but Rattlers then and now.