By LINDSEY CRAWFORD
This semester, the University of Mary Washington is one step closer to receiving enough funds to restore the historic amphitheatre to its original state. Recent gifts, as well as surplus from the Founder’s Day challenge, pushed the fund closer to its $3 million goal.
In past years, repairs were made to the amphitheatre, but both time and nature’s elements have caught up to the wooded outdoor enclosure, resulting in disrepair and safety hazards.
A gift of $1.25 million from alumna Josephine McPherson Heslep, ’56 pushed the fund to $2.5 million. In addition, alumni Robert and Alice Andrews Jepson, ’64 gifted $1 million. This was on top of an additional $250,000 in total from donations by other friends and alumni of UMW.
The renovations to the amphitheatre will partially include restoring the area to its original state. This includes all new marble and a seating area of more than 600 people.
The University is also working closely with historic preservation faculty and alumni members to make sure that the restoration process is done as effectively as possible while still retaining the original structure. Also, safety and stability will play a large role in order to ensure that damage cannot be done easily to the amphitheatre in the future.
“I think it will renew and reinforce the ties our alumni have with Mary Washington,” said Vice President of Advancement and University Relations Salvatore Meringolo. “It will once again become a place that students, alumni and members of the Fredericksburg community will be able to enjoy.”
Once a focal point of student life, the amphitheatre is rarely used by current students.
“I’m so happy the amphitheatre is being restored. My grandmother is an alumni, and seeing pictures she has taken of the amphitheater, it looks amazing,” said sophomore Morgan Gresham.
Funds are still being raised in an effort to hit the $3 million goal, but once that number is reached, renovations will begin. As of now, a committee is being formed to review proposals submitted by architectural and engineering firms.
“I look forward to celebrating with alumni and students when we officially hold our first event in the newly restored amphitheatre,” said Meringolo. “I think there will be a lot of celebrating – and maybe even a few tears shed. Any time we can preserve a tradition or a special place – we are helping to preserve memories while ensuring that new ones continue to be made.”