Talladega College was one of the few black colleges that pursued a strong liberal arts education during the late 19th and early 20th centuries when vocationalism dominated black education.
Swayne Hall was constructed in 1857 for a Baptist men's college by slaves, and was purchased in 1867 by the American Missionary Association, as Talladega College. Many of the school's alumni went on to graduate schools and became professionals (doctors, lawyers, architects, etc).
They were among the well-educated blacks who helped create the new black middle class. Some later became involved in the civil rights movement.
This building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974.