Funds, design ready for amphitheater $300,000 is raised for community college hTC

August 30, 1996|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

The money was raised ahead of schedule and an architect's design has been adopted, so groundbreaking can begin in the spring for the much-anticipated outdoor theater at Carroll Community College.

The amphitheater, which will be on a grassy slope against a grove of trees, is the first building project undertaken by the new Carroll Community College Foundation.

"Our original hope was to raise $300,000 -- and we had it in less than a year," said Diana K. Scott of the college's Institutional Advancement Office. "We're real proud of our community participation."

The foundation's board of trustees last week adopted an architect's plan by Probst-Mason Inc. of Baltimore, which designed the college's original master plan in 1984.

A scale model of the stage features a blue roof like that of the college's Great Hall. A simpler style for the stage -- a lean-to shed -- was rejected in favor of the more compatible design, she said.

The gabled design is "architecturally satisfying," Scott said. "It will really echo the main building."

The setting south of the main building is bucolic -- a natural bowl below a stand of trees, with a steep hillside rising above it.

Movable partitions on the stage should allow it to accommodate an intimate ensemble or an 80- to 90-piece orchestra, said Rosemary A. Straub, the foundation's executive director and vice president of institutional advancement.

When fully open, the 1,944-square-foot stage "will hold a goodly portion of the Baltimore Symphony," she said.

Dressing rooms and restrooms will be behind the stage, and about 500 bench-style seats are planned near the stage.

With additional lawn seating on the hillside, the facility will accommodate up to 4,000 spectators, she said.

Groundbreaking tentatively is scheduled for March on the amphitheater, which is expected to attract bigger musical, dance and theatrical performances that have bypassed the county for lack of adequate space.

The Carroll Players, a local troupe that could use the amphitheater for productions, donated $1,200 almost as soon as fund raising began last August.

Other gifts quickly followed, including a pledge of $75,000 by the Rotary clubs of Carroll County -- which resulted in naming the project the Rotary Amphitheater. Random House Inc. contributed $30,000 and will have the stage named for it.

The college, with several local banks and businesses, contributed $10,000 or more to the project.

Faculty and staff held a silent auction and a pledge drive, raising $15,000; the student government organization gave $1,000; and the college president, Joseph F. Shields, donated $3,000.

With contributions from many other individuals and groups, the $300,000 goal was met in six or seven months, Straub said.

"That's an example of how well the idea of the amphitheater has been received in the community. There's a real lack of staging facilities in this area," she said.

Another fund-raiser is planned for Jan. 11 and will feature groups that might use the amphitheater. An additional $50,000 to $80,000 will be needed for the bench seats, water and an electrical system to amplify the sound.

Groups will be able to use the facility at cost, Straub said.

"We'd like to have it available for just whatever it costs us to run it. Like any other room on campus, it would be available for a nominal fee for the community's use," she said.

The amphitheater project was the first to rely on community support.

Other college buildings have been paid for with state and county money -- for example, the $11 million Learning Resource Center whose steel skeleton is rising beside the Great Hall.

The library is expected to open next fall.

Future construction plans include a complex of six interconnected buildings to be completed in 10 years, then four additional buildings in the next 20 years.

Carroll Community College has an 80-acre campus south of Westminster at 1601 Washington Road.

Pub Date: 8/30/96

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