Leonard Hall, located on Shaw University campus, has a legacy as both the first four-year medical school for black students in the United States, and the first four-year medical school in North Carolina. The brick, twin-turreted building opened in 1881 as Leonard Medical School. The Leonard family, who lived in Massachusetts, had contributed money to the growing college, which was established to educate freedmen following the Civil War. Leonard Hall and two other buildings, a hospital and medical dormitory, were built to train Christian physicians to serve African Americans.
Architecturally, the building is of the Romanesque Revival style, with corner towers and segmental and round arch windows that display decorative brick casing. An addition was later constructed at the rear of the original building, with a matching corbelled cornice. The front section’s cornice has since been rebuilt with terracotta tile flashing. It is possible that the architect was African American--Gaston A. Edward, who designed Leonard Hospital, constructed in 1910. Edward also served on the Shaw faculty. Classes were held in the building for more than 100 years. In 1986, however, Leonard Hall closed following a severe fire, which cost the building its distinctive roof. The roof was restored in November 2000 as part of a $3.6 million renovation with grant money from the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Fund, administered by the National Park Service. The building now houses classes and administrative offices.
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