Project Snapshot: Restoration propping up once-sagging VUU building

VUUindustrialHall1

An addition and new roofing have been taking shape for VUU’s Industrial Hall building beside Interstate 64-95. (Jonathan Spiers photos)

Five years after work got going on the project, a long-sought restoration of the century-old Industrial Hall building at Virginia Union University appears to be in full swing.

Construction has ramped up in recent months on the once-sagging stone structure beside the interstate, where drivers have witnessed an addition taking shape and new roofing being added to the three-story building that’s planned to become an art gallery and museum for VUU.

The activity continues an initial phase of the project that got underway in 2018 to stabilize and shore up the building, which had structural damage from years of non-use and exposure to the elements. Built in 1899, the original 7,000-square-foot building has housed classrooms over the years and served as a library and gym.

industrial hall

The Industrial Hall building in 2018, when the project got started. (BizSense file photo)

Architectural features and artifacts in the building are being salvaged and worked into the restoration, and plans call for transforming the structure into a modern space to house VUU’s art collection and exhibits, which have been displayed at the university’s library.

A development plan and building permit filed with the city show gallery spaces would fill the first and second floors, with the first-floor entrance gallery flanked by a lecture hall and a director’s office and kitchen.

The addition on the building’s west side would accommodate an elevator, stairs, bathrooms and storage, and the third floor of the building would house an archive room and an artist-in-residence or student studio.

VUU Industrial Hall bldg rendering

A rendering of the completed restoration. (City documents)

The permit describes certain steps to be taken as the project progresses, with work including repointing of the entirety of the building’s stone exterior, masonry rebuilt and the façade cleaned, interior brick masonry repointed and damaged brick repaired or replaced, and windows and doors and the roof assembly installed.

The permit requires that the contractor salvage artifacts that remained in building. Existing windows were to be salvaged and replaced along with existing doors, wood flooring and beadboard wall finishes and ceilings. An old staircase in the building also was to be reconstructed using salvaged elements.

VUUindustrialHall4

The building addition will house an elevator, stairs, bathrooms and storage.

Taylor & Parrish Construction is the general contractor on the project, and the permit lists Quinn Evans as the architect and landscape architect. Dunbar is the structural engineer, VHB is the civil engineer, and Inversity Consulting Engineers is handling mechanical, electrical and plumbing work. Sadler & Whitehead is providing historic preservation consulting.

Industrial Hall is one of the HBCU’s original eight buildings, which included an adjacent power plant, the smokestack for which still stands next door. The building is located in the VUU Historic District and is listed as a contributing structure to the district, making the project eligible for state historic rehab tax credits.

VUUindustrialHall5

The construction is highly visible from the interstate.

A project cost is not reflected in the plans. Attempts to reach project managers with VUU and Taylor & Parrish were unsuccessful. The university’s Office of Institutional Achievement has been fundraising for the project, soliciting donations from supporters and the museum community.

The construction is near another highly visible project on the other side of the interstate: Stanley Martin Homes’ Carver Square condo development that’s been taking shape across Lombardy Street from Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School.

VUUindustrialHall1

An addition and new roofing have been taking shape for VUU’s Industrial Hall building beside Interstate 64-95. (Jonathan Spiers photos)

Five years after work got going on the project, a long-sought restoration of the century-old Industrial Hall building at Virginia Union University appears to be in full swing.

Construction has ramped up in recent months on the once-sagging stone structure beside the interstate, where drivers have witnessed an addition taking shape and new roofing being added to the three-story building that’s planned to become an art gallery and museum for VUU.

The activity continues an initial phase of the project that got underway in 2018 to stabilize and shore up the building, which had structural damage from years of non-use and exposure to the elements. Built in 1899, the original 7,000-square-foot building has housed classrooms over the years and served as a library and gym.

industrial hall

The Industrial Hall building in 2018, when the project got started. (BizSense file photo)

Architectural features and artifacts in the building are being salvaged and worked into the restoration, and plans call for transforming the structure into a modern space to house VUU’s art collection and exhibits, which have been displayed at the university’s library.

A development plan and building permit filed with the city show gallery spaces would fill the first and second floors, with the first-floor entrance gallery flanked by a lecture hall and a director’s office and kitchen.

The addition on the building’s west side would accommodate an elevator, stairs, bathrooms and storage, and the third floor of the building would house an archive room and an artist-in-residence or student studio.

VUU Industrial Hall bldg rendering

A rendering of the completed restoration. (City documents)

The permit describes certain steps to be taken as the project progresses, with work including repointing of the entirety of the building’s stone exterior, masonry rebuilt and the façade cleaned, interior brick masonry repointed and damaged brick repaired or replaced, and windows and doors and the roof assembly installed.

The permit requires that the contractor salvage artifacts that remained in building. Existing windows were to be salvaged and replaced along with existing doors, wood flooring and beadboard wall finishes and ceilings. An old staircase in the building also was to be reconstructed using salvaged elements.

VUUindustrialHall4

The building addition will house an elevator, stairs, bathrooms and storage.

Taylor & Parrish Construction is the general contractor on the project, and the permit lists Quinn Evans as the architect and landscape architect. Dunbar is the structural engineer, VHB is the civil engineer, and Inversity Consulting Engineers is handling mechanical, electrical and plumbing work. Sadler & Whitehead is providing historic preservation consulting.

Industrial Hall is one of the HBCU’s original eight buildings, which included an adjacent power plant, the smokestack for which still stands next door. The building is located in the VUU Historic District and is listed as a contributing structure to the district, making the project eligible for state historic rehab tax credits.

VUUindustrialHall5

The construction is highly visible from the interstate.

A project cost is not reflected in the plans. Attempts to reach project managers with VUU and Taylor & Parrish were unsuccessful. The university’s Office of Institutional Achievement has been fundraising for the project, soliciting donations from supporters and the museum community.

The construction is near another highly visible project on the other side of the interstate: Stanley Martin Homes’ Carver Square condo development that’s been taking shape across Lombardy Street from Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School.

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John Lindner
John Lindner
9 months ago

Jonathan,
Thanks for the story. I was wondering what was going on there.

Bucci Zeugner
Bucci Zeugner
9 months ago

Great news!

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
9 months ago

THIS is an example of a worthy historical project — an attractive building that is both also old and historic (one of an old college’s original buildings)

Bonus is how visible it is.

When I was in High School, the old college in town’s original bldg was a rotting embarrassment. Eventually, they saw fit to restore it because the college was actually a very important one and still is.