Lead Gift of $30 Million Helps Fund the Alice Dodge Wallace ’38 Center for the Performing Arts

The Infinite Horizon campaign has been ignited by a lead gift of $30 million from Alice Dodge Wallace ’38, which will be foundational in the construction of the Alice Dodge Wallace ’38 Center for the Performing Arts on the Emma Willard School campus.

In an effort to elevate the arts and nurture a learning environment defined by creativity, Emma Willard School has identified the need for a state-of-the-art performance, rehearsal, and gathering space on our campus. This element of our strategic plan has been embedded in the aspirations of the Infinite Horizon campaign and will become a reality in part through a momentous lead gift from philanthropist Alice Dodge Wallace ’38 (1920–2020). 

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  • Alice Dodge Wallace '38

    The daughter of educators, Alice Dodge Wallace '38 (1920-2020) displayed a lifelong devotion to education and the teachers who provide it, generously giving to institutions that touched her life and enriched the lives of others. 
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Alice Dodge Wallace '38 Center for the Performing Arts

Our faculty, administration, and trustees have begun the work necessary to envision the Alice Dodge Wallace ’38 Center for the Performing Arts. Integral to this new space will be a transformation of Alumnae Chapel, which has been central to the student experience at Emma Willard School even from its early days as the school’s gymnasium. One of the three original Mount Ida structures, the then-gymnasium was slated for renovation after World War II, making space for chapel gatherings and an expanded focus on the arts. In the October 1945 Bulletin, it was reported that an architect had been named to present “proposals to include more adequate use of our present buildings and better provision for the study of the arts and religion.” 

Almost 80 years later—after many years of discussion and research by the Board of Trustees—an architect has again been appointed to reimagine this iconic space. The team at Ann Beha Architects of Boston is known across the United States for their work in preserving and revitalizing historic architecture for contemporary use. Their careful attention to the historic structure of Alumnae Chapel will not only maintain its grand façade and role as the center of campus, it will also increase the functionality of the space by bringing it into the 21st century, with technology and acoustics to match. The renovated auditorium will—for the first time in many years—accommodate the entire Emma Willard School community to gather together with seats for up to 450. The renovations to the concert hall will preserve the one-of-a-kind baroque organ, designed by Fritz Noack (father of Wiebke Noack Theodore ’77). As these renovations are made to the chapel, Emma Willard is exploring the designation of a sacred space—inclusive of all faiths—for reflection, worship, and times of joy and sorrow.

New construction on the east side of the chapel building will expand our dedicated space for choral, orchestral, theatrical, and dance rehearsals and performances. The architects have envisioned spaces for faculty offices, set and costume shops, and an exhibition space. Morning reports, convocations, concerts, theatrical productions, lectures, social gatherings, and receptions will all find an accessible, welcoming home in the foyers, porticos, and performance venues that make up the Alice Dodge Wallace ’38 Center for the Performing Arts.
    • Exterior view of the Alice Dodge Wallace '38 Performing Arts Center

      The Alice Dodge Wallace ’38 Center for the Performing Arts will include the renovated Alumnae Chapel and an expansion into a subterranean annex building, both carefully planned and constructed to maintain historical features and the character of campus.

    • Interior - View from Stage

      The interior chapel renovation will offer balcony and main floor seating, and highlights restoration of historic features like the leaded glass windows and visible wood trusses. Main floor seating will be flexible to support different performance settings, including a motorized extended stage for orchestra and other large performances. New side and rear balconies will offer views to the stage and to the community.

    • Exterior - Overhead View

    • Exterior view from Chapel Portico

    • Exterior view of connector to Snell-Dietel-Maguire

      The renovated connector between the chapel and Snell-Dietel-Maguire will provide an additional accessible entrance to the performing arts center.

    • Interior view of the stage with orchestra

    • Interior - View from Balcony

    • Interior - View from Stage

    • Interior view of the stage

    • Interior view of the stage with speaker and screen

    • Dance Studio

      The project offers two dance studios with wood lining for sound control and mirrors for instruction. The studios may be set up for yoga, dance, and small performances. The floor will be maple and “sprung” to cushion dance activities.

    • Orchestra Rehearsal

      The music studio will accommodate the Emma Willard orchestra and ensembles and includes instrument storage lockers and acoustically treated oak wood walls. Clerestory windows introduce natural light from the east and south.

    • Studio Theatre

      Studio theatres are ideal settings for rehearsals, teaching, and small performances. The retractable seating will allow the stage to be reconfigured and this studio will have theatrical lighting, projection, and audiovisual systems.

    • Studio Theatre with natural light

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