GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The St. Cecilia Music Center has completed its $2.4 million renovations to its 122-year-old building in downtown Grand Rapids.
The Italian Renaissance-style building at 24 Ransom Ave. NE has been in continuous operation as a music center since its construction.
Renovations, mostly to the building's interior and roof, began in June and were recently completed in time for a grand re-opening scheduled for November 3.
"The things we do here are very high caliber," said Executive Director Catherine Holbrook. "I feel like we brought the facility up to the level of the programming. All the things we did bring the facility up to the level of the artists that are coming, the education programs and really, helps to bring it all together."
The renovations, completed by Mathison | Mathison Architects of Grand Rapids Erhardt Construction, are part of a $5.5 million "Music Lives Here" fundraising campaign. Yvonne Daniels of Daniels Design of Grand Rapids was also involved in the remodel.
The rest of the money in the campaign is aimed at creating a $3 million endowment to help sustain the 133-year-old organization. To date, $4.2 million has been raised.
Much of the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was updated as part of the project. A remodeled lobby, recital area and ballroom, 635 new seats in the auditorium, new practice rooms and staff offices and a rejuvenated stain glass window are among the highlights.
Here is a closer look at upgrades in each part of the building:
The Idema Room
The parlor room near the entrance of the building features seven donated Mathias Alten paintings. The space has new furniture, drapery and carpeting.
The first room people see when they enter the building has been completely reimagined. The front desk where tickets are purchased has been relocated to make the room feel more like the entrance of concert hall. Increased lighting and a feature with a monitor on it also give the room a modern, contemporary look.
A Tiffany & Co. stain glass window is also impossible to miss. The piece was removed, cleaned and lighting was placed behind it allow it to glow during nighttime concerts.
Named for Eloise L. Johnson, the president's room is where most of the center's recitals are held. The room underwent one of the more significant remodels. Walls were repainted from baby blue and cream to brown, earthy tones that match the rest of the building. New flooring and drapery and increased LED lighting are also highlights.
"The architects looked back at some of the historical photos of this room and removed some molding," Holbrook said. "It's probably much more in its original state than it had been before. Original but updated was really the code that they were working on. We wanted to respect the historical aspect but bring it a little bit more up to date."
All 635 seats in the auditorium were replaced, however the original iron-side pieces were repainted and used for the remodel. The floor was also completely refurbished. A mural located outside of the auditorium is being painted to commemorate those who sponsored each of the seats removed during the remodel.
Louis M. Dexter Ballroom
The ballroom is where most of the center's many weddings take place. The original hand-painted wallpaper remained through the remodel but the floor was completely refinished. New drapery is also included. Another highlight is the 140-year-old Steinway & Sons piano which has been refurbished.
"We really wanted people to come in and see the detail of this piano," Holbrook said. "They just don't make them like that anymore."
The St. Cecilia Music Center is the only organization of its kind in West Michigan. Established in 1883 as St. Cecilia Society by nine Grand Rapids' women determined to "promote the study and appreciation of music in all its branches," the organization was named for the legendary patron saint of music.