In the morning on July 19, 2021, Oakwood University, located in Huntsville, Alabama, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the Peterson Hall renovation. The building has been completely renovated to include residential use as well as offering a full conference center.
Oakwood University president Leslie Pollard was on hand to cut the ribbon for the Peterson Hall and University Conference Center, surrounded by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Mark Massey, president of Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering (ASCTE), and members of the Oakwood University and ASCTE administrative teams.
Constructed 1955, Peterson Hall is named for Oakwood's second African American president, Frank L. Peterson (1945-1954). One of the grandest buildings on Oakwood's campus, the design of Peterson Hall is reminiscent of traditional Southern-styled architecture. The large columns and grand staircase at the entry remind visitors of Oakwood's rich history.
The "E"-shaped structure was originally completed in 1955, and featured student rooms for approximately 170 students, a second floor chapel, staff offices, an infirmary, two deans' apartments, and an expansive ground-floor recreation hall. Although constructed at the outset to serve as a residence hall for freshmen students, Peterson Hall has also served as temporary office space as recently as 2011.
As a result of collaboration between Oakwood University and ASCTE, the building has been completely renovated, and as of July 2021, is now called the Peterson Hall Residential and Conference Center. Beginning in August 2021, ASCTE students will occupy the building for the 2021-2022 school year; the facility will then be used as a conference center for out-of-town guests of the university.
“For a number of years, we have dreamed of the day when we could bring forward a renovated and modernized Peterson Hall as a state-of-the-art residential facility. However, our hopes have been exceeded our dreams. In 2021, we open Peterson Hall as both a residence hall and a conference center — a first for our Oakwood campus. What a way to celebrate our 125th anniversary! God be praised,” said Pollard. “We have spent more than $60 million dollars in new construction and renovation in the last 10 years. With the matchless support of our donors, we will renovate and modernize our other facilities, just as we have done with Peterson, Cunningham, and Carter.”
Similar its purpose in 1955, the renovated building is designed to give its residents comfort, modern convenience, and proper study environs. The updated facilities will include 52 private rooms, four suites, meeting rooms, an auditorium, a business center, laundry and vending areas, a Swedish-style sauna, and exercise room.