June 26, 2000
Volume 52, No. 36
$1.2M gift means an art center for Oxford
By Deb Hammacher
Thanks to a $1.2 million gift from an alumnus, Oxford College has reached its fundraising goal for new and expanded arts facilities that are part of the Renaissance at Oxford campus plan.
Hugh and Gena Tarbutton of Sandersville, Ga., are the donors, and the addition to Few Hall and the theater within will be named in their honor to recognize their generosity, according to Oxford Dean Dana Greene.
"With this gift, we have reached our construction funding goal of $3.15 million, which will be matched by the University to fund the $6.3 million project," Greene said.
Groundbreaking for the project, which includes renovations of historic Few Hall and Williams Gymnasium, is scheduled for September. Project manager Charlie Scott said temporary office trailers for the handful of employees working this summer in the two buildings should arrive July 5, and abatement will begin July 10. The work will take approximately one year to complete.
Tarbutton, a 1952 Oxford and 1955 business school graduate, and his wife are long-time supporters of the college. He was elected to Oxford's Board of Counselors in 1983 and was named a permanent member of the group last year. He is president of Sandersville Railroad Co.
Following a two-year feasibility study of arts facilities, the college retained the Atlanta firm of Surber, Barber, Choate and Hertlein Architects to renovate and adapt existing facilities for expanded arts use. The firm is known for its restoration and preservation projects including Central Presbyterian Church, the Northeast YWCA and the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta, and the Upson House in Athens.
The project will involve restoring and renovating Williams Gym and expanding and restoring Few Hall, using original architectural details in historic photographs as a guide. A new addition, built off the northeast corner of the building, will complement Few Hall's classic proportions and will house a 120-seat theater, scene shop, lobby and ticket office as well as rehearsal space.
Williams Gym will be refurbished to provide dance and music performance space plus classrooms while still housing dance and athletics classes.
A lobby will be added to serve patrons and make the performance space handicap-accessible. When completed, the upper-level space will feature retractable seating for 180 and a movable stage. The larger Renaissance at Oxford campus plan calls for preserving facilities on the historic campus through restoration and adaptive reuse.
Fundraising efforts are not entirely finished, however. "We will continue to seek funding for operational, programmatic and maintenance costs in relation to the project," Greene said.
" We are grateful to those who can help us bring the performing arts center to fruition and assist us in enlivening and strengthening the appreciation of the arts at Oxford College and in the community."
Greene added that she hopes to make the venues available to the community
when not in use by Oxford students.