UGA to spend $30 million to renovate historic campus building

University of Georgia leaders celebrated the 60th anniversary of its desegregation in January in front of the Holmes-Hunter Academic Building, which was named in 2001 after its first two Black students. The school has received approved from the state's Board of Regents to renovate the building. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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University of Georgia leaders celebrated the 60th anniversary of its desegregation in January in front of the Holmes-Hunter Academic Building, which was named in 2001 after its first two Black students. The school has received approved from the state's Board of Regents to renovate the building. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The state’s Board of Regents on Tuesday approved the University of Georgia’s $30 million plan to renovate one of its oldest and most historic buildings.

The school’s Holmes-Hunter Academic Building, named after the first two Black students to enroll at the university — Hamilton E. Holmes and Charlayne Hunter-Gault — is in need of major repairs, officials said.

The planned renovations include installing new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems; an elevator and additional stairwells; a classroom for small group classes and restoring an interior courtyard.

Planning and design will begin in early 2022 with restoration and construction beginning in late 2022 or early 2023. The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has committed $15 million for the project, university officials said. Public and private funds will pay for the rest of the project, officials said.

“We are so grateful for the continued partnership of the Woodruff Foundation and support of the Board of Regents for this important restoration,” UGA President Jere W. Morehead said in a statement. “This building, located beside our iconic Arch, honors two individuals who changed our institution for the better and left monumental legacies at UGA. I am very excited about today’s announcement to advance this significant project. This is a great day for UGA.”

ExploreUniversity of Georgia commemorates 60th anniversary of desegregation

The building, located on the north end of the Athens campus, is comprised of two separate structures built in 1831 and 1860. They were combined in 1905, connected with a three-story addition that added a courtyard, which was removed in a subsequent renovation. It houses the Office of Student Financial Aid, the Office of Institutional Diversity, and the Office of the Registrar.

Holmes and Hunter-Gault entered the Academic Building to register for undergraduate classes in 1961. Later that year, Mary Frances Early enrolled as a graduate student and became UGA’s first Black graduate in 1962. The university named the building after Holmes and Hunter-Gault in 2001.

“What wonderful news to learn that the Holmes-Hunter Building is not only getting older, but getting better, thanks to leadership at the University of Georgia that has continued to work on making it the place Hamilton and I hoped it would become once we walked into that building for the first time,” said Charlayne Hunter-Gault.

Holmes died in 1995. His widow, Marilyn, said in a statement: “My children and I are thrilled and thankful that President Morehead would consider the renovation of this important building as one of his priorities.”

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