The Atlanta Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) announces a kickoff event, “Crowning of Fountain (Stone) Hall,” to commemorate its plans to restore Fountain Hall on the campus of Morris Brown College this Friday, Aug. 21, at 11 a.m.
According to organizers, this first step in historic preservation will take place on the Morris Brown College quadrangle (643 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta). The launch event will be a virtual experience for the public, with onsite broadcast limited to area media outlets.
ASALH’s goal is to preserve Fountain Hall, which was the office of Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois while he taught at the historic Atlanta University. This event announces the initial construction activities for the Fountain Hall Roof Replacement Project.
The preservation goals are to repurpose and modernize the interior spaces and restore the classrooms and office of Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, the chapel, art studios, and gallery. The Atlanta Branch is looking for strategic alliances to connect Morris Brown College and Atlanta to Dr. Du Bois’ legacy of human and civil rights and global economic and social justice impact.
“In this COVID-19 pandemic environment, safety is our first concern,” shared President Kevin E. James, “but our ‘good trouble’ needs to be shared. Morris Brown College is on a comeback, and the ‘hard reset’ starts with our iconic Fountain (Stone) Hall, which was built in 1882.
“We want to share our excitement, honor our sponsors, and give Atlanta, Georgia and the world an opportunity to join in the preservation of Fountain Hall and the site of Dr. Du Bois’ Atlanta University office, where the ‘Souls of Black Folk’ (1903) was penned,” James added.
The first of two $500,000 African American Civil Rights grants from National Park Service will be used to replace the roof and preserve the clock tower as the first phase of the historic preservation plan for this National Landmark Building.
Collaborating with the National Park Service and the national ASALH office, other strategic partners include the National Trust for Historic Preservation African American Heritage Action Fund, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the Atlanta History Center, Historic Atlanta, and the City’s Office of Design—Historic Preservation.
Dr. R. Candy Tate, chairperson of the Atlanta ASALH’s Hallowed Grounds committee agreed, saying, “This historic structure is the ‘Crowned Gemstone’ of Atlanta’s Diamond Hill on the highest vista of the vibrant westside communities. We will also restore the clock tower and bell which serves to encourage alumni Brownites to return to enjoy Fountain Hall as a gathering place for homecomings. We will resume dramatic and musical performances in the old chapel auditorium.”
“ASALH Atlanta Branch’s goal is to be a leader in preservation efforts around the city,” Tate said. “For the redevelopment of Fountain Hall, we are preservation partners with Morris Brown College, bringing national and local professional expertise.”