| the history of wake forest
dressing rooms. Year after year, audiences had walked up library
stairs or taken the elevator to see creative and—given the sur-
roundings and physical limitations—often inspired productions
of Shakespeare and Chekhov, Shaw and Tennessee Williams, and
elaborate musicals like Camelot and The Pajama Game. Theatre
Director Harold Tedford, writing about the “airy perch atop all
of the library books,” could safely predict that the “perch” would
someday be “abandoned without tears,” but nostalgia would, for
a long time to come, visit the memories of those who worked and
performed in those studios up towards the library’s attic.
From the time of his arrival at Wake Forest, President Scales
had made it clear that a fine arts center would be the most impor-
tant building priority of his administration, and in the fall of 1971
he received, first from the College Board of Visitors and then from
the Board of Trustees, a whole-hearted endorsement of his com-
mitment. Wake Forest will not be a “conservatory,” he said. “We
are not educating specialists for Broadway or Philharmonic Hall.
We are educating the audience and the patrons who will keep alive
those things which enlarge our sensitivities and raise [our vision]…
beyond the immediate and the vocational.”
There then began a planning study of proportions virtually
without precedent in Wake Forest history. The President appointed
a Commission on the Fine Arts: twelve members of the faculty,
including representatives from music, art and theatre, and from
WFDD, the University’s radio station; seven representatives from
the administration; nine students; six Trustees; five members from
the board of Visitors; three representatives from the Winston-Salem
arts community; and nine consultants, including Harold Gores,
president of Educational Facilities Laboratories of New York, and
noted theatre designer Jo Mielziner. With the assistance of a
$25,000 planning grant from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Founda-
tion, the Commission was invited to a two-day conference at Wake
Forest on March 23–24. Attention, it was explained, would be giv-
en to the site of an arts center, to the architecture, to size and cost,
and to space allocation. In preparation, students also were offered
an opportunity to participate: their opinions were asked for in sur-
veys, and 975 responded.
For two days the arts at Wake Forest were discussed—with both
good judgment and passion. On the first evening Commission
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