October 30, 2000

Cornellians Celebrate New Lincoln Hall

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Over 100 alumni and music lovers toasted the newly renovated Lincoln Hall, home of the University’s Department of Music, at Friday’s dedication ceremony.

“There is no better way to mark the turn of the century,” said Phillip E. Lewis, the Harold A. Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Sarah E. Thomas, the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian, called the new Sidney Cox Library of Music and Dance an achievement.

“The library has been woefully inadequate for years,” she said, referring to the lack of open stacks in the old facility due to the weak floor, which would have collapsed from the weight. Instead, patrons had to page a book by giving its call number to a librarian, who would retrieve it from downstairs.

While facilitating browsing, the new library also contains the records, videos, new and rare books that were previously in storage.

Prof. Mark Davis Scatterday, chair of the music department, called the unveiled Lincoln Hall a “world class facility for a world class library.”

President Hunter R. Rawlings III also commended the renovated building, calling it “a facility worthy of the extraordinary talents of the music faculty.”

“The significance of the Lincoln Hall renaissance goes beyond facility; it literally sets a new tone for campus which resonates loudly across campus,” he added. “The Lincoln Hall renaissance affirms how the arts in general, and music in particular, contribute to the elegance of the University.”

Following these remarks, the guests joined the Chorus and Glee Club in singing the Alma Mater.

The ceremony then proceeded to the main entrance of Lincoln Hall on East Avenue for the ribbon cutting, as the Cornell Trombone Choir performed Achieved is the Glorious Work from Joseph Haydn’s The Creation.

Awe-struck alumni explored the inside of the new Lincoln Hall after reception in the rehearsal hall.

“It’s beautiful,” said Adelaide Russell Vant ’57, who donated a Steinway grand piano with her husband Edgar H. Vant ’57. “We’re very excited Cornell is going to emphasize music more.”

Lincoln Hall was built in 1888 to accommodate civil engineering and architecture. The Department of Music was established in 1903 and originally located in Morse Hall. As a result of the Great Depression, the department moved to a Wait Avenue fraternity house in 1929, where it remained until 1961 when it moved to Lincoln Hall.

After eight years of careful planning and designing, the $19 million renovations to Lincoln Hall include: a 2,850 square-foot rehearsal room, acoustically engineered rooms for sound isolation, an increase in the number of practice rooms for students, 13 new studios for private teaching, a gamelan world-music room, mini-electronic studios, temperature and humidity controls to protect instruments from damage, new administrative areas and a 70 percent expansion of the music library.

“It’s wonderful,” said Prof. David Rosen, music. “We can do many things we couldn’t do otherwise. It’s a space the whole university can use.”

According to Steve Stucky, the Given Foundation Professor of Composition, the renovations are not only practical, but symbolic. “It’s a visible statement that Cornell cares about the arts as much as the science and humanities,” he said.

Archived article by Anastasia Handy