Renovation work begins on Berry's Ford Auditorium

Betty Anne Rouse Bell joins other donors in breaking down the ceremonial wall to kick off the renovation of the Ford Auditorium. Several gifts came from Berry alumnae who as students lived and worked in Berry’s historic Ford Buildings. Those women will now be forever associated with the iconic structures through the naming of the Betty Anne Rouse Bell Recital Hall and the Margaret Weaver Faison Entrance Hall within the confines of the auditorium, and the Ouida W. Dickey Living Room in the nearby Berry Alumni Center.

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, Berry donors swung 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, but the inside of the auditorium is 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.”

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 the 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.