Field of green expands comfort and use of amphitheater
Countless concerts and plays have graced the stage of Centenary College’s iconic Hargrove Memorial Amphitheater.
Known affectionately to the campus community as “the Shell,” the structure features concrete seating for up to 2,000 audience members. It is receiving a facelift to transform part of its concrete benches into a more attractive green space. The amphitheater will also be more accessible with the addition of sidewalks on either side of the structure. The stage and outer shell will be painted and resurfaced.
“Our students love being outside – on nice days they are out studying on the patch of grass between the parking lot and the band shell,” said Centenary College Senior Development Officer Meredith Armuth. “We’ve been talking for years about potentially landscaping, terracing and taking out the benches ... making it more user-friendly.”
The changes are being made thanks to Centenary’s Women’s Endowment Quorum (WEQ), which Armuth says has designated about $116,000 to the upgrades.
The WEQ, a dues-paying philanthropic organization that plays a key role in campus enhancement projects, has contributed more than $1 million to Centenary College in the past 35 years. This includes annual scholarships and funding for campus enhancements like security upgrades, new library flooring and several athletics upgrades. “One of the bigger projects they supported was a total renovation of the James Hall lobby,” said Armuth. “Typically, the WEQ funds projects that impact the greatest number of students.”
The shell was originally constructed in 1926 with wooden seating that was replaced with concrete bench-style seats in 1936. The bandshell was added to the stage in 1964 to shelter performers from inclement weather.
Armuth says the timely changes may make the shell more attractive with the advent of COVID-19, allowing audience members to social distance and take in a show. “I think in the fall, it’s going to be a really great asset for campus events, as well as broader community events,” said Armuth.
Work on Hargrove Memorial Amphitheater is expected to be complete in the fall.