On November 20, 1970 Dobbs Hall was destroyed by fire. It was a massive blaze which left both the Science and Drama Departments homeless. Gone was the auditorium which had been the scene of commencements, concerts, chapel programs and theatre productions for nearly one hundred years. Gone were the speech and drama classrooms and the theatre workshop.
Dr. Max Estes, chairman of the
Speech and Drama Department, later recalled that shortly after Dobbs burned,
Charles Hudson, chairman of the Board of Trustees, “sat down with us and said
that we must keep our drama department active and immediately went out
searching for us a place. He found us
temporary quarters in Cannon and Unity Schools,” paced off several local venues
and later secured a large tent which was erected on the vacant Dobbs site. "Barefoot in the Park,” the first
post-Dobbs offering was staged as a theatre- in-the-round production in the
Simpson Room on the ground floor
of the Mariotti Gymnasium. Our itinerant
drama folk carried on for the next five years.
Trustees, officers of administration and benefactors began their work.
The tent is pictured in a detail from the hand drawn
diagram of the “Quad” which appeared in the 1974 Quadrangle.
With deep appreciation, on May 22, 1972, the College announced the gift of land and funding to build and equip a drama theater and Department of Theatre Arts by the Callaway Foundation, Inc. of LaGrange.
|Architect’s rendering appearing on the cover of the July, 1973 issue of “LC LaGrange College Bulletin.”|
The proposed Forrest Avenue location marked a significant expansion of the campus. Final plans for the building were drawn by Biggers, Scarbrough, Neal, Crisp and Clark, architects and engineers of Columbus, Georgia. Wright Associates acted as general contractors. The structure contained classrooms, offices, costume and scenery construction and storage areas, make-up and dressing rooms, an actors’ lounge, and studio theater facilities. The theater itself seated 286 persons; the 80 by 40 foot stage area was equipped with a hydraulically operated thrust/apron.
Named for Lewis Price, a faithful trustee of LaGrange College from 1938 until his death in 1974, Price Theater was formally dedicated on the evening of November 6, 1975. Damon Runyan’s musical “Guys and Dolls” was the inaugural production, marking the emergence of the drama department from what Dr. Estes called “. . . . our medieval period -- between the burning of Dobbs and the Renaissance that is the PRICE THEATER.” It was a moment of profound gratitude experienced in an electric atmosphere as the audience reveled in the real star of the evening – Price Theater.
In April of 2000 a group of devoted alumni spearheaded a “Birthday Bash Reunion” for “dear Price Theater!” celebrating twenty- five years of instruction and performances. The program included tributes to Mr. Lewis Price and Dr. Max Estes as well as a performance of Noel Coward’s musical “Red Peppers” in the Black Box Theater, featuring theatre arts faculty members Kim Barber Knoll and Dr. Steven Earl Edwards.
Now, after thirty-eight years of exciting productions and delighted audiences, Price Theatre has been undergoing a much needed renovation. Kim Barber Knoll, Professor and Coordinator of the Theatre Arts Department looking toward this renovation said, “Price Theater is truly a jewel, and we are thrilled that this restoration will give our faculty updated resources to complement what they do best: teach our students to be skilled not only in acting, but in costume design, set design, lighting and technical design, and the business of theatre. The size of our faculty has doubled over the past few years, and they’re especially excited about the expanded classroom space!” (“Price Theater Take your seat . . . , LaGrange College”) Friday, April 19, 2013 saw the official ceremony to mark the kickoff of the project.
October 10, 2013 will bring the official reopening of our newly polished jewel. It will be yet another occasion celebrating the support for and continuation of LaGrange College’s strong theatre arts program. It is a tradition which remains a vital part of campus and community life in LaGrange. We can’t wait for the curtain to rise.
LaGrange College drama students, left to right: Kevin Metasavage,
Nikki Stone, Stacia Myers, Linda Jackson at the renovation groundbreaking.
This post was authored by Jacqueline Hornsby.
Note: Dr. Max Estes' comments are taken from the remarks which he delivered at the dedication of Price Theater on November 6, 1975.
Visit the Archives to discover for yourself the collection of rich resources which preserve the history of LaGrange College. Generous and often unexpected donations insure that the collection continues to expand. Displays on the main floor of Lewis Library and just outside Suber Archives on the ground floor of the Library provide a sampling of our holdings. Let us know if we can be of assistance.
Suber Archives and Special Collections
Frank and Laura Lewis Library
Monday – Thursday, 8:30am until 5:00pm
Friday, 8:30am until 12:30pm
Patricia Barrett, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacqueline Hornsby, email@example.com