Florida Southern College Receives $50,000 Grant for Frank Lloyd Wright Theater-in-the-Round
State Bureau of Historic Preservation Funds Will Help Restore Wright-Designed Fletcher Theatre
LAKELAND, Fla. (Jan. 26, 2009) — Florida Southern College will begin restoration work next month on the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Fletcher Theatre with the help of a $50,000 historic preservation grant provided by the Bureau of Historic Preservation in the Florida Department of States Division of Historical Resources.
The work will be directed by Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker Architects LLP, one of the nations pre-eminent architectural restoration firms. The restoration is expected to be completed by June 30.
"We are excited to begin the restoration of this wonderful and unique theater, which Mr. Wright identified as one of his favorites at Florida Southern," said Dr. Anne B. Kerr, president of the College. "This grant will enable us to restore one of Mr. Wright's signature structures, transforming the theater into an ideal venue for faculty and student meetings and classes, as well as for public performances, lectures, meetings, readings, and events hosted by Florida Southern and community groups."
The Fletcher Theatre, completed in 1952, is a circular amphitheater in the Lucius Pond Ordway Building. It is the only theater-in-the-round designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. In addition, the theater is remarkable for its extraordinary acoustic design and expansive clerestory windows, which originally encircled the room at the ceiling to allow an infusion of natural light.
The theater has been in continuous use since 1952 as a performance venue and lecture hall. In the last five years, it has been used most frequently by the College's Theatre Arts Department for classes and student-directed performances and by student organizations for events. Restoring the theater will broaden its suitability for use by other academic departments and by more of the College's 70 student groups, as well as by community organizations.
Since 1995, the state Bureau of Historic Preservation, assisted by the Florida Historical Commission, has awarded more than $2.1 million to FSC for Wright restoration on campus, including grants in 2005 of $300,000 to begin restoration of the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel, and in 2006 of $350,000 to help restore the Water Dome.
"The Florida state Bureau of Historic Preservation has been a steadfast and generous supporter of restoration efforts at Florida Southern College for many years," Dr. Kerr said. "We are deeply grateful for the Bureau's ongoing investment to ensure the preservation of our historic Frank Lloyd Wright campus for the enjoyment of the local community and the thousands of visitors from around the world who tour the Wright campus each year."
This is the second major historic preservation grant the College has announced in recent weeks. In mid-December, Florida Southern was awarded a $350,000 Save Americas Treasures grant for the restoration of Wrights Annie Pfeiffer Chapel. Save America's Treasures is a joint effort of five federal agencies and is administered jointly by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Parks Service. FSC received the only Save America's Treasures grant given in the state of Florida in 2008 and was among just 40 projects nationwide selected from more than 220 applications.