VUU hopes to turn 'eyesore' into a prized landmark

VUU hopes to turn 'eyesore' into a prized landmark
Fundraising efforts are ongoing for construction on Industrial Hall at VUU.

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia Union University leaders are hoping one of its oldest buildings will be transformed from a century-old ruin to a prized landmark.

Industrial Hall on VUU's campus sits right on the edge of I-95. It's a sagging, gray building that's been around since the university's inception.

"This is a prominent location along the interstate so it was becoming an eyesore and we don't want anything about Virginia Union to be an eyesore," said facilities director David Gordon on Monday.

Built in 1899, the hall was once a place for students who worked at the adjacent power plant.

Gordon says the building is damaged from years without use and exposure to the elements.

It's now in its first of two phases of a redevelopment project to make the building safe enough to reconstruct.

"Fundraising efforts are going on so that we can move into phase two, which is the renovation," Gordon said.

Students say the change is welcome because the university has more to offer than its industrial past.

"This revitalizes VUU, and Richmond, Virginia, but also the African American community," said Jamon Phenix, a junior studying history, political science and education.

Gordon says "folk art, African art, historic documents from leaders in the community" will be showcased at Industrial Hall upon completion of phase two.

However, since the school is pursuing historic tax credits for renovation, certain aspects of the building must remain intact.

"The main changes will be interior," said Gordon.

This first round will cost about $400,000, but school leaders say the building's new look will not only promote the museum, but the university's new era, too.

To make a donation to support the project, click here or call the Office of Institutional Advancement at 804-342-3936.

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