Tuning to the times

Sound a dirge for Kresge Hall, welcome Hamre Hall



Since its construction as a part of the Humanities Building in 1971, Kresge Recital Hall has been the key performance area on campus. Now the Augustana administration believes it is time for the iconic room to get an upgrade.

This summer the recital hall will receive a $1.4 million-dollar donation allowing Augustana to make significant enhancements to the room. Some of these enhancements include upgrades in seating, new lighting, new recording equipment and better ceiling and wall acoustics.

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Brad Heegel, the administrative director of Augustana Performing and Visual Arts, remembers playing in the recital hall when he first came to Augustana in 1972. 

“I have been working here for 40 years and the facility itself has never changed, with the exception of carpet down the aisle,” Heegel said. “It is a tired room, and we will rejoice when it becomes a fine, usable space again.”

Heegel believes that once the renovations take place the room will improve both functionally and aesthetically. 

“It will be beautiful,” Heegel said. “It has that Scandinavian look to it with some blond-ish woods and deep blues and new acoustical treatments so the sound will be better and a little sharper than what we have had in past years.”

According to Bob Preloger, the recently retired vice president of advancement, funding for the recital hall renovation came from a family with deep Augustana roots. 

“The Hamre family gifted to the University a complete renovation of Kresge Recital Hall, which will be renamed in honor of the Hamre family parents, Ruth and Melvin,” Preloger said. 

Ruth and Melvin’s four children, John, Victor, Anna and Susan, all attended Augustana and were involved in some form of music during their time on campus. Together they decided that the best way to honor their parents would be giving a gift.

 The recital hall renovation is the first step in an even larger $3 million Humanities renovation. 

Along with the recital hall, both the choral and instrumental rehearsal rooms, located in the music wing and basement, will be updated. 

Also included is the renovation of 14 classrooms in the Humanities Center.  Some have been remodeled already, and all should be finished by the beginning of classes this fall.  

With the successful completion of the fundraising effort, the building will be renamed Fryxell Humanities Center after iconic Augustana English professors Don and Lucy Fryxell. 

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However, students should not be worried about tuition going towards the projects.

“Tuition does not fund projects like this,” Preloger said. “We are able to do this because of the generosity of our alumni and the good work that is done by the relationships that our development staff build with them through the years.”  

The upper level music rooms will not be the only upgraded rooms of the department. The university will facelift the basement practice rooms and will add cameras to increase security. 

To top it off, students will see an elevator to the basement for better accessibility to the lower level. 

“There is no elevator to the downstairs practice rooms so students with disabilities would really have a difficult time getting down there,” said Chair of the Music Department John Pennington. 

These additions are important not only to the faculty that work in the building, but also the students. 

“It makes me excited after seeing what they did to the [Froiland Science Complex],” said Clair Hammerschmidt, a junior music major involved in both band and orchestra. “I’m really jealous that they did not do this first.”

The plans for all of the Humanities renovations were drawn by TSP, an architectural firm that designed the Froiland Science Complex. The lead architect for the project is Augustana alumnus Chase Kramer ‘08. 

“It’s been really great having a hand in shaping how this new space will feel, especially considering how much the activities I’ve participated in within the space have shaped me throughout the years,” said Kramer. “It’s also great to be able to continually come back to campus and work with former professors and staff to work on new projects.”

When the renovations are complete, Heegel knows the recital hall will be sure to stand out.

“I think it will be a showcase, certainly for the arts, for music and for the university as a whole,” Heegel said. “It will be a place we’ll be proud to go into again.” 


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