Founded in 1870, Allen University is a Historically Black University with a deep affiliation with the African Methodist Church. The school was originally focused on training ministers and teachers, typical of HBCUs founded during reconstruction as educational opportunities for African Americans necessitated a new professional class of educators and leaders. This legacy continues with the school’s Dickerson Green Theological Seminary, which is the first advanced degree offered by Allen University.
Allen University is an important community anchor in Columbia and its impact has grown beyond its academic mission. This includes partnerships to support local public housing residents with access to education, working with the local schools with academic support services for youth and longtime support for the Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.
The project will completely renovate the historic Waverly Hospital building and construct a new addition to allow the university to operate several new and expanding programs as well as community facilities. Built in the 1950s, the Waverly Hospital was one of the first and only healthcare facilities for Columbia’s Black community. The hospital closed in 1973, leaving the building vacant ever since. The renovation will not only continue Allen University’s investment in the local community but also restore an important part of Black history in South Carolina.
The renovated facility will include permanent space for the newly approved Allen University School of Education as well as an expanded program for the Dickerson-Green Theological Seminary. Both programs are important parts of Allen’s ongoing strategic plan which aims to grow enrollment, expand academic programs and improve the university’s financial strength and stability.
Expanding access to education training is a key part of addressing systemic shortages of teachers, particularly black teachers, in South Carolina. The renovated facility will also house the Boeing Institute on Civility, which is envisioned as a national hub for teaching and provide programming aimed at advancing civil discourse in America and across the globe. The Institute will be dedicated to the memory of Clementa Pinckney, an Allen graduate who was murdered, along with eight others, in the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. shooting in 2015.
Reinvestment Fund is providing a $2.6 million bridge loan and $5 million in New Markets Tax Credits for this project. The bridge loan is bridging towards South Carolina Abandoned Building Credits, a type of credit specifically available for the renovation and reuse of long-term vacant properties, as well as State and Federal historic credits. South Carolina Community Loan Fund is also providing $7 million in NMTC allocations for the project. JPMorgan Chase is the NMTC investor. Enhanced Capital is the State and Federal historic credits investor.