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Macon church getting new life | News

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Macon church getting new life
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Mercer University is turning the former Tattnall Square Presbyterian Church into its new theater and community arts center. Although construction has been going on for a year, work has picked up since the spring.

Monya Rutland has lived across the street from the church for 15 years. She's excited about the new theater.

"It's going to add a lot of vitality to the neighborhood," she said Tuesday as crews worked inside of the building.

Lake Lambert, dean of the college of liberal arts, said in the last year crews have fixed the roof and prevented water from filling the basement. Parts of the church have been stripped down to bare bones, ready for new life.

Since it's a historic building some things must be preserved. "The altar area will remain essentially the same. That's a historic feature of the building," said Lambert. "There are also some columns in the main sanctuary that remain."

Lambert said the black box theater should open January 2015. "The staging and the seating will be movable, so it can be set up for a variety of venues, whether those are concerts, theater performances, art displays," said Lambert.

Jonathan Dye is on the theater's advisory board. He said they've already heard from arts groups that want to use the space for petry slams, theater in the round and musical performances. It may also host summer camps, said Dye.

"My daughter loves the theater and so that will be a perfect and convenient place for her to grow and develop and learn more about the theater," said Rutland.

Mercers current theater only seats about 70, but the new space will hold up to about 150. Mercer students will learn how to run a theater and do things like design lighting.

Lambert said they're still raising funds for the project and the total cost will be around $2 million.
Part of that will be paid by a $425,000 grant from a group called ArtPlace America.


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