The Lincoln Hall Renovation – A New Era at Portland State University

[Barbara] Oh its a wonderful time! [Laughs] The energy level is just going sky-high. [Speaker] As dean of Portland State’s School of Fine and Performing Arts, Barbara Sestak has good reason to be so happy. [Opera] [Barbara] Here we have an opera program that their productions are nationally ranked and what makes it so unique, certainly in Oregon, is that we are the only school that does a full opera production. So it is a fantastic training ground for singers, for opera singers. [Orchestral Music] [Speaker] The symphony orchestra, under the direction of Ken Seldon, has also been gaining national attention and honors in recent years for its classical work, as well as a new emphasis on nontraditional work featuring current composers. [Orchestral Music] The Theatre Department’s latest production of the Tempest is another example of why the department has been going strong since the 1950s. And now there is even more reason to celebrate. [Barbara] One of the most exciting things about the Theatre Department, currently is the new film program we are doing. Two years ago we had 25 majors, now we’ve got over 200. Its the only place in Oregon that you can study film in a university setting and get a college degree for this. [Speaker] But all these new programs needed a new setting. And that meant it was finally time to do something about upgrading and improving Lincoln Hall. So in 2008 an army of movers invaded Lincoln Hall, packing up everything, from body armor to thousands of costume, to some 60 pianos as everyone prepared for the major renovation to come. After months of packing, the actual move took less than a week. The renovation will take a lot longer, but then there is a lot to do before the new and improved Lincoln Hall opens its doors in Fall 2010. And its certainly earned its thirty million dollar makeover. As Portland State’s oldest building, there was a lot to be done. The challenge was to update without losing Lincoln Hall’s Historic charm. Lincoln Hall was actually built as a high school back in 1911, educating kids from all over the Portland area for more than 40 years. In 1953, after the Vanport flood, it officially became the cornerstone of downtown Portland State, known as Old main. [Tom] This was a building that was here when I was here back in 1971. And it hasn’t changed much and with this renovation, we will have a state of the art facility for educating our young people. [Andrea] I’ve heard that its just totally incredible. So, I can’t wait. [Jay] Lots of natural sunlights gonna be coming in there’s gonna be these big wells that go all through all three stories, just down either side, for all the departments so its gonna be really, really cool aesthetically, but there is also going to be lots more practice space, performance space, the theatres going to be bigger, there is going to be a big orchestra pit, so there are going to be all sorts of improvements that will benefit the student body I think. [Piano] [Andrea] Its going ot be really exciting to have a brand spanking new music building, music hall. Portland needs something like that. [Tom] We feel that there aren’t really many things that are more important than an education, and in order to have a well-rounded, whole person, you really do need to have the arts involved. [Speaker] Tom’s involvement, along with his wife Marilynn, was to be one of the first donors to help cover the cost the four million dollar front door portion of this renovation. [Barbara] Because its not just a new look, the park blocks were closed off to traffic. Then the front door was not any longer the front door so the Broadway side, which nowadays would be perceived as the the front of the building, and its actually the back of the building. So, one of the major things that we want to do is make sure that we have access, right off of Broadway, easily accessible to everybody. Its not just for the Fine Performing Arts, it is the front door to the University. [Ken] My wife and I are donors to Portland State because we think one of the important elements of a city is to have a fine urban universty. You can give to a lot of places in the city, but the Arts, quite frankly, are very difficult to be funded right now and I think Portland State’s Art program is one of the shining stars that deserves some funding from our community. [Speaker] Portland State still needs to raise four million dollars to complete the transformation of Lincoln Hall. To learn more about our Fine and Performing Art Program, or how you can donate to the renovation, visit

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