Campus Construction

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mississippi School of the Arts ExecutiveDirector Suzanne Hirsch and the rest of the school are eager fortwo main construction projects on campus to be completed.

    Hirsch hopes renovations to the outside of Elizabeth Cottage, whichpreviously housed the presidents of Whitworth College and theirfamilies, will be complete by December.

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    “It’s been an eyesore for a really long time,” Hirsch said. “It’sgoing to be restored to its original architecture.”

    The exterior renovations to the building, which was constructed in1913, began earlier this year with a grant from the MississippiDepartment of Archives and History and matching funds from theMississippi School of the Arts Foundation (MSAF), a private fundingorganization for the school.

    MSA has approximately $125,000 for cottage work, with $76,000targeted for the exterior project. The remainder is expected to beused to begin interior work.

    Chairman Bill Sones said the foundation is happy the renovation isunder way.

    “We’re pleased that the project is going on,” he said. “We’re likeanyone else who’s building anything in that we wish it would happenfaster.”

    Sones also expressed that they wished the project could be morewide-ranging, referring to the fact that only enough funds exist todo a renovation for the exterior.

    “We’re just trying to keep it protected now with a new shell forit,” he said. “Once we raise more funds, there will be a lot ofother interior work done. Anyone interested can contribute to thisproject specifically if they want.

    “It’s a really old building with a beautiful, long heritage,” hecontinued. “It sure will look a lot better.”

    Once completed, the building will be used for literary arts classeson the first floor and housing for the artist in residence programon the second floor.

    Another renovation on the campus has begun in Enochs Hall, adjacentto Elizabeth Cottage.

    The building is being revamped on the inside on all floors, andonce it’s completed, it will be fully functional, Hirsch said.

    Hirsch said the inside will have new classrooms, a new theater, anart gallery and more space for sculpture classes, which arecurrently being cramped into pottery classrooms.

    The new 250-seat theater will provide a new venue for dramastudents’ live performances, as opposed to Lampton Auditorium whereshows have been held, according to Hirsch.

    The state’s Bureau of Building, Grounds and Real PropertyManagement assists schools and institutions like MSA in theirbuilding projects. Hirsch said the bureau helps contractconstruction companies and keeps tabs on the projects to make surethey are completed in a timely manner.

    “They’ve been really great and amazing,” she said. “We’re thankfulto have them working with us. They’re just extraordinary tous.”

    Other building projects on the horizon for the school include a newskylight and West wall of the Student Life Center.

    “These will start in the spring,” Hirsch said. “We want to presenta schematic to the city for approval first.”

    Hirsch said the West wall, which faces Brookway Boulevard, willhave a new texture to it that she wants to get approval of beforegetting the project under way.

    The skylight in the Student Life Center will be replacedentirely.

Hirsch explained the anticipated completionof the building renovations has added to the excitement of the newschool year that began Tuesday.

    “We’re off to a really great start this year,” Hirsch said. “Thebuilding renovations create a new level of energy on thecampus.”