A project that has been in the works for more than a decade will soon become a reality at Seguin’s Texas Lutheran University.
At the start of the college’s 126th academic year last week, President Stuart Dorsey announced the expansion of Jackson Auditorium — a $15 million undertaking that will provide new learning and performing spaces for school of music and dramatic media students.
TLU’s new build will be called the Caroline M. Weston Center for the Performing Arts, after the Marion resident, longtime TLU supporter and patron of the performing arts.
“There have been discussions about doing something like this for probably over 10 or 15 years, but it’s really become a reality within the past two or three years,” said TLU spokeswoman Sarah Story said. “Since Dr. Dorsey arrived it’s been on his list of projects.”
Designed by architect Pfluger-Lammers, the Jackson Auditorium expansion will include the construction of two new wings.
A 32,000 square foot, two-story School of Music building will adjoin the north side of Jackson auditorium. On the south side, for the Dramatic Media department, TLU will construct a new 6,200 square foot “black box” or studio theater.
The current 30-year old auditorium will see some upgrades: renovated first and second floor lobbies and restroom facilities.
More than 200 music, dramatic media majors and non-major students will be affected by this expansion, Story said.
“Our school of music has really outgrown the existing facility that they’ve been in for a very very long time,” Story said. “Dramatic media has really never had its own space. They have kind of moved from different buildings. This will be their first dedicated space which will be great for them. They are ecstatic. This has been a long time coming.”
David Legore, TLU dramatic media department chair and professor of 19 years, said he is excited for the new opportunities the center will bring.
“This is going to be a transformational project not just for my department but also for those folks that are in music,” he said.
The new smaller 200-seat “experimental” venue, he said, will allow audience interaction than was possible at the Jackson Auditorium.
“It is the perfect size for the kinds of events that we want with an audience,” he said. “It’s going to be a venue that’s very conducive to audience participation. I’m looking forward to having a new reason to share some things with the community.”
The Caroline M. Weston Center for the Performing Arts announcement last week came at a gathering, convocation, which included the building’s namesake and benefactor. Guests included her sons Grainger, Graham and Greg Weston. Graham Weston is a former board of regent for the university and owner of San Antonio tech company Rackspace.
“We want to sincerely thank the Weston family for their generosity and support of the performing arts at TLU,” said TLU president Stuart Dorsey. “Their significant contribution to making our new music facility and studio theater a reality will benefit our current students, faculty, staff and community for many years to come.”
A groundbreaking for the new center will take place in coming months. The dramatic media building is slated to open before Fall 2017 academic year. The music school is expected to open later just before Spring 2018 semester.