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The historic Archives Building at Southern University in Baton Rouge. The building dates back to 1840.

The oldest building on the campus of Southern University in Baton Rouge is set to be rehabilitated thanks to a federal grant.

Southern on Monday formally announced the nearly $500,000 grant to preserve the historic Archives Building, which dates to 1840. The National Park Service first announced the grant in April.

The Archives Building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, sits atop the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.

The grant is part of a $7.7 million package of 18 historic preservation awards to 12 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) such as Southern. In addition to funding work to the Archives building and its grounds, the money will allow students with hands-on learning in historical preservation.

The rehabilitation is set for completion in mid-2021 and will be overseen by Southern’s Office of Facility Services.

“The Archives Building represents the humble beginnings of Southern University and we appreciate the support from the National Parks Service in recognizing the significance of preserving this property,” said Southern’s president-chancellor Ray Belton in a statement.

The Archives Building, known as “The Little White House,” was the only habitable building on the campus when Southern University relocated from New Orleans to Baton Rouge in 1914. Through the years, the Archives Building has served as the home for the university president, an administrative building, women’s residence, dining hall, infirmary and a social center.

“After rehabilitation of the building is complete, it will once again house relevant historic artifacts and data about the University, and will also be available to not only faculty, staff, and students, but also to the Scotlandville community and visitors as an interpretive center,” said Robyn Merrick, vice president for external affairs for the Southern University System.

Funding for this grant program is made possible through Congressional appropriations to the Historic Preservation Fund. The fund uses revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf for a broad range of preservation projects.

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