News & Stories
May 21, 2019

Ford Auditorium's New Melody

ROME, Ga. – The historic Ford Auditorium at Berry College is undergoing a $6.3 million renovation to create a first-class performance and recital hall for the music program.

On Saturday, generous Berry donors swung the ceremonial sledgehammers to commence the renovation and restoration of Ford Auditorium. Construction is scheduled to finish by the end of the year. The English Gothic design of the Ford buildings have helped Berry earn wide acclaim as one of the most beautiful college campuses in America according to Architectural Digest, USA Today and Travel + Leisure. But the insides of the auditorium are in severe need of a facelift.

“Your generosity will allow Berry to continue to be a destination for serious music study,” Associate Professor Adam Hayes, chair of the Fine Arts Program, said at the renovation kick-off. “Great spaces inspire great performances.”

Berry College has a thriving music program with talented faculty and students. There are 17 ensembles including the Berry College Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Berry Singers, jazz ensembles, concert choirs and several chamber music ensembles. On average, 10 percent of the student population participates in music making on our campus and more than 40 concerts are performed annually. All the concerts are free and open to the Rome community.

The renovation plans include an enlarged stage, new seating, a redesigned balcony, digital lighting and sound systems, high-performance acoustics including all-wood ceiling, wood-carved acoustical paneling, adjustable acoustical banners and sound reflectors and restoration of historic elements, such as wood carvings and stained glass. Improvements will also include new mechanical and curtain systems, climate-controlled instrument storage, and a renovated lobby.  
More than 400 donors have contributed to the project. This effort has been enriched by the generosity of friends and families of alumnae whose lives were forever changed through their experiences as Berry students. Fittingly, these women will forever be linked to Ford Auditorium through the naming of the Betty Anne Rouse Bell Recital Hall, the Margaret Weaver Faison Entrance Hall and the Ouida W. Dickey Living Room. A generous Berry friend and longtime champion of the arts will be honored through the naming of the M. Bobbie Bailey Performance Stage. Bailey’s sister, Audrey Morgan, spearheaded efforts to enhance Berry’s dramatic arts facilities. When that work was completed in 2017, the new facility was christened Sisters Theatre to honor the bonds of love and family the two women shared.


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