Battle to Save the Oldest Building on the Campus of Norfolk State University

President Tony Atwater supports plans to replace G.W.C. Brown Hall, the oldest building on the campus of Norfolk State University in Virginia. Students began an online petition seeking to pressure President Atwater to reconsider his position given the historical significance of the building.

But in a letter to the campus community, Dr. Atwater stated that an assessment of the building’s condition identified “significant physical deficits” in the structure. He stated that efforts to renovate the building would cost $24 million and he concluded, “This expense is not justifiable give that a new structure would cost about the same amount.”

About 30 percent of all classes at the university are taught in Brown Hall. President Atwater said he had received numerous complaints from students, teachers, and staff on environmental problems in the building. President Atwater said “these problems impact the instructional quality and effectiveness of the university’s teaching and learning environment.”

In conclusion, Dr. Atwater stated that “a new Brown Hall will reflect features of the original structure and will provide a safer and stronger instructional environment for our faculty and students.” He said the new building would bear the name of C.W.C. Brown and that he had the support of the Brown family in his efforts to improve the university’s physical plant. G.W.C. Brown was one of the founders of the university.

The decision on whether to raze all or part of the building will be made by the trustees.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Mary Northington says:

    Since the renovation of the existing Brown Hall would cost the same as building a new one, considering the historical significance of the building, why not save it? Too much of our history is already obliterated. The spirit of our lives is in these buildings. Destroyed past is too soon forgotten. We need to feel from whence we have come Has anyone consulted with the National Trust for Historic Preservation ?

  2. Gwendolyn Henderson, Ed.S. says:

    While I agree with preserving Brown Hall, I think a better solution would be to build the new building on another part of the campus and take time to apply for grants and raise funds to restore Brown. It will require the university to secure the structure for a period of time but it would be worth it even if it a years down the road. Could be a WIN-WIN!

    Several buildings at Florida A&M Univ. were closed in the 80s that are now restored. We made due and so can NSU.

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