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Howard Hall is the oldest extant building on the Howard University campus. Originally the home of white General Oliver Otis Howard, it was completed in 1869 as one of the first four buildings on the campus. Howard's residence, in addition to the residences of white Generals George Balloch and John Alvord, sat on Seventh Street (now Georgia Avenue), forming "Army Officer Row." Howard Hall, which had begun to deteriorate by the mid-20th century, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974. Restoration of the house was completed in 1998 and it now serves as the university's Alumni Center.

General Howard, who served as commissioner of the Refugee, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (Freedmen's Bureau), was one of the founders of the school, and because of his instrumental role in its development, the building and university were named after him. He also served as the university's president from 1869 to 1874. The house is an example of the residential Second Empire style that was popular after the Civil War with a typically high mansard roof, elaborate dormer windows and tower, and decorative iron balustrades. It was built of brick cast at the site and includes three stories and sixteen rooms.

In 1909, after Howard's death, the university purchased the property. Over the years it was used for a number of purposes, including School of Music headquarters, the residence for the Music School director, and the African Language Center.

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