Mo­men­tum builds for Berry Ford Au­di­to­rium ren­o­va­tion

Berry an­nounces the first ma­jor pro­ject nam­ing.

Rome News-Tribune - - NEWS - From Berry Col­lege

Fundrais­ing mo­men­tum for the ren­o­va­tion of Ford Au­di­to­rium as a first­class per­for­mance venue for Berry Col­lege stu­dents, fac­ulty and the North­west Ge­or­gia com­mu­nity con­tin­ues to grow with the first ma­jor nam­ing as­so­ci­ated with the pro­ject — the Betty Anne Rouse Bell Recital Hall.

The nam­ing of the per­for­mance space in­side the struc­ture was made pos­si­ble by Bell’s hus­band Bob Bell, who sur­prised his wife with a gift to Berry Col­lege. Com­bined with con­tri­bu­tions from other alumni and friends, that gift has helped push fundrais­ing for the $6.3 mil­lion Ford pro­ject past the $4 mil­lion mark. The pro­ject in­cludes restora­tion and ren­o­va­tion of the au­di­to­rium as well as re­fur­bish­ment of the Mu­sic De­part­ment. Berry of­fi­cials hope to com­plete fund­ing by May 2019 so work can be­gin.

Plans for the au­di­to­rium — con­structed in the 1920s at the di­rec­tion of Henry and Clara Ford — in­clude the restora­tion of his­toric ar­chi­tec­tural el­e­ments and sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­nal ren­o­va­tions meant to en­hance the acous­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence for per­form­ers and au­di­ence mem­bers alike. Ex­per­tise has been pro­vided by Kirkegaard As­so­ci­ates of Chicago, one of the na­tion’s fore­most acous­tics con­sult­ing firms.

When work is com­pleted, the ren­o­vated fa­cil­ity will bet­ter serve the needs of Berry’s thriv­ing mu­sic pro­gram while also en­rich­ing the cul­tural life of the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity.

The recital hall nam­ing is fit­ting recog­ni­tion for a “dou­ble alumna” whose love of mu­sic and drama was first awak­ened as a high school and col­lege stu­dent at Berry. Bell, like many fel­low stu­dents of her time, en­tered Berry Col­lege with no money but with a burn­ing de­sire to earn a col­lege de­gree. She earned her high school diploma from the Martha Berry School for Girls in 1952 and her Bach­e­lor of Science in ed­u­ca­tion from Berry Col­lege in 1956.

It was at Berry that Bell ex­pe­ri­enced her first con­cert, opera and bal­let. She also had op­por­tu­ni­ties to pol­ish her vo­cal tal­ents as a per­former with the Berry Bal­lad Girls, Con­cert Choir and Berry Singers. Pop­u­lar with her fel­low stu­dents, she was cho­sen Miss Berry High School and Miss Berry Col­lege.

Later in life, Bell per­formed for pres­i­dents, gov­er­nors and for­eign dig­ni­taries — on tele­vi­sion as well as in churches, con­ven­tions, nurs­ing homes and At­lanta Braves games. She was soloist for South­ern Charm Ltd., an award-win­ning At­lanta en­sem­ble.

In ad­di­tion to her per­for­mance work, Bell has ac­tively pro­moted the arts as pres­i­dent of the At­lanta Mu­sic Club and as a board mem­ber for the At­lanta Reper­tory Opera Com­pany, At­lanta Chil­dren’s Civic Theater, South­ern Bal­let, Woodruff Arts Cen­ter, DeKalb County and Ge­or­gia coun­cils for the arts, and Emory Friends of Mu­sic. She also has served on the boards of the Au­di­tory Ed­u­ca­tion Clinic, South­ern Chris­tian Chil­dren’s Home and the Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee to the Ge­or­gia State Se­nate.

The Bells live in the At­lanta sub­urb of Peachtree Corners where they are ac­tive mem­bers of Peachtree Corners Pres­by­te­rian Church — she as a deacon and choir mem­ber, he as an el­der. They have two daugh­ters, Kathryn Leigh Barker and Allison Gaye Au­man, six grand­chil­dren and three great-grand­chil­dren.

/ Berry Col­lege

Ford Au­di­to­rium ar­chi­tec­tural ren­der­ings. Berry an­nounces plans for the Betty Anne Rouse Bell Recital Hall.

/ Berry

Bob and Betty Anne Rouse Bell.

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