Ribbon-cutting for Cheyney University’s oldest building set for September 11

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania



Contact: Public Relations Director

Gwen Owens, 610 399-2121 gowens@cheyney.edu or

Pam Carter, 610 399-2515 pcarter@cheyney.edu


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Ribbon-cutting for Cheyney University’s oldest building set for September 11

CHEYNEY, PA. – Humphreys Hall, the oldest building on the campus of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, will be showcased at a ribbon-cutting on September 11, 2013. Built from local field stone, it originally opened on October 4, 1904, and housed five teachers and 14 students who received training as teachers. The 14,000 square-foot building, vacant for the past 10 years, has recently undergone an extensive restoration to provide residential housing for a cohort of non-traditional students, known as Humphreys scholars.

Work on Humphreys Hall included a complete interior and exterior renovation of the first academic building on the historic quadrangle. The interior renovation includes replacement of building systems, reconfiguration of interior spaces, and the insertion of an elevator within the existing building envelope. The fieldstone walls, wood windows, and brick chimneys were rehabilitated, and the slate roof was replaced in kind. A 1950 one-story annex addition which had housed the public safety offices was demolished allowing the building to return to its original configuration.

The site was renovated for recreational green space and an open pavilion was constructed from stone salvaged from the demolition. The colonial-revival building occupies a key position on the University’s historic Quadrangle. It faces Carnegie Hall, the second building constructed in 1910 as part of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s establishment of libraries throughout America in the early 20th century. Five additional stone buildings have since been added to comprise the University’s historic quadrangle.

Fon Wang, AIA, LEED AP of UCI Architects of Philadelphia, PA, guided the project. The building interior has been reconfigured into residential suites for Humphreys Scholars who make up the living-learning community.  Common areas include a lounge, meditation room, kitchen, laundry room, and group study area.

Given the historic nature of Humphreys Hall, Wang and her team had to work hand-in-hand with historic preservation committees during the restoration. “The building is listed as eligible according to the National Register of Historic Places,” Fon Wang commented. “Prior to restoration, the building was in dire need of restoration. Fortunately, all stone required for these repairs was salvaged from an adjacent structure which was disassembled as part of this project.” UCI Architects’ restoration of Humphreys Hall was awarded the 2011 Grand Jury Historic Preservation Achievement Award from the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.

When Humphreys Hall first opened in 1904, the school was known as The Institute of Colored Youth.  By the summer of 1905, attendance had increased from 14 to 46 students. The Institute’s name was changed to Cheyney State Teachers College 10 years later.

Established in 1837, Cheyney University is regarded as the first institution for higher learning for African Americans. The founding of Cheyney University was made possible by Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist who bequeathed $10,000, one tenth of his estate, to design and establish a school to educate the descendants of the African race. Before moving to Cheyney, Pennsylvania, the school was located at previous locations throughout the Philadelphia region.

Support for some of the Humphreys Hall interior renovations was provided through Friends Fiduciary Corporation.


A liberal arts university, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania hosts signature programs such as the Keystone Honors Academy, the Call Me Mister teaching program, the Aquaculture Research and Teaching Laboratory and the accredited Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management program.  Recognized as the first institution for higher learning for African Americans, Cheyney University recently celebrated its 175th Anniversary.  The University offers baccalaureate and graduate degree programs at two locations, Cheyney and Philadelphia, PA – Center City.  For more information, please visit the website at http://www.cheyney.edu.

For more information on this and other events, please contact Gwen Owens, Director of Public Relations, 610-399-2121 or via email at gowens@cheyney.edu.

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