Overview

Blackstone Hall, also known as the E.H. Young Theatre, has served several purposes over the years but it is commonly known for housing the drama department at Berry College.

History

First built in 1915, Blackstone Hall became the first brick building at Berry College and replaced Brewster Hall. Mrs. Timothy B. (Isabella) Blackstone provided the funding for this building and named it after her hotel in Chicago. Up until 1926, the rooms in the dining hall housed the library. After the construction of the Memorial Library in 1926, the rooms were converted into a lounge so that female students could rest between classes, instead of making the long trip back to the girls’ school (Ford). In April of 1977, the Board of Trustees voted to convert Blackstone into a theater and classrooms for drama study and production. There was much controversy over the reconstruction of Blackstone into a theater, because the school did not have sufficient funds for such a project. Some students went so far as to protest about a theater in front of Herman Hall during a board meeting so the trustees could see how passionate they were. The Campus Carrier issued an article about the event on Friday November 10, 1978. The decision was finalized to renovate Blackstone in 1982. Construction began on the new building and a new name was chosen: E.H. Young Theater.

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The front of E. H. Young Theatre


E. H. Young Theater

The money for the theater was given to Berry College by Ehrman Hay Young, a 1920 Berry College graduate who donated $210,000 for its remodeling. His wife also contributed to this project by planting Catalpa trees on the lawn. The building's primary use is for The Berry College Theater Company, which houses many performances as well as theater and drama classes. The new building has an audience seating for 224 people on the main stage and 110 people in the studio theater. The main stage was designed to give a close relationship between the audience and the performers. The former kitchen and office areas are now department offices and storage areas. A professor from Berry, Dr. Franklin Hidly, designed the theater with the help of Berry College students. He aimed to model Berry's theater after the Shakespeare Globe Theater in London. His external designs followed the colonial and neoclassical themes in Berry's other buildings, including columns located on the front entrance. Rooms were constructed in order to house all of the theater needs including the costume shop, make-up rooms, storage for scenery, props, equipment, and a lobby. On Thursday February 16, 1984 the theater held its grand opening performance of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." By 1993, the college began necessary renovations on the outside of the E.H. Young Theater.

‍‍‍Works Cited‍‍‍

Berry College. "Berry Trails: An Historic and Contemporary Guide to Berry College." Third Edition. Mount Berry: Berry College, 2001. Print. Berry College Archives. Memorial Library. Berry College