Skip to Main Content

Fuller Arts Center (RG 122)

This is a photograph of the front of the renovated Fuller Arts Center at Springfield College in 2009.The photograph is taken from the ground, up, and shows the full entrance, including the buildings name. Different from the original entrance, the new entrance has the Springfield College triangle on the top of the entrance way, and four real pillars in front of the entrance. The renovation also included new flooring, renovated stage and auditorium, and a track-lighted ceiling.

Fuller Arts Center

On March 3, 1983, construction began on the corner of Hickory Street and Wilbraham Avenue at the site of the “old ice house.” The Fuller Arts Center, an 11,500-square-foot facility, was to be built on the Springfield College campus as a theatre and auditorium. The idea first came about in 1973 when undergraduate Dennis St. Jean and his friends, who produced and directed Springfield’s first “Best of Broadway” in Moses Hall, collected a handful of money and proposed an offer to the college’s president. They wrote, “Dr. Mr. President: We know you are busy building other things like the Babson Library now, but one day we hope you’ll build us a little theatre. Without exerting any pressure, we want you to have this collection as a down payment on that building. Please save it for that and, when you can build one, use our dollars.” The fund grew to $10,000 by the late 70s. In 1978 these student’s dreams became a reality as a Theatre Task Force was appointed and its building was incorporated into the Capital Campaign. By 1979 the Capital Campaign was headed by Art Linkletter, who made a significant contribution of $50,000 himself. Other leading contributors were Julius and Louise Appleton who pledged $100,000 to the campaign, the George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation, and the George I. Alden Trust.

On May 4, 1984 Art Linkletter hosted the dedication performance for the Fuller Arts Center. At the ceremony the SC Dance Troupes, SC Singers, the Stage Band, and two theatrical companies, Best of Broadway and the American Theatre Academy, performed. The total cost of the one- story glass, concrete, and brick multi-purpose facility that met a diversity of needs at Springfield College was $850,000. The Appleton Auditorium consisted of 12-rows with 300 seats to accommodate plays, films, concerts, and public lectures. The classic statement is that “there is not a bad seat in the house,” since all rows are arranged in concentric curves focusing on center stage. The stage was 4’4” high, 47 feet wide and 23 feet deep. The stage also had a remote controlled movie screen measuring 18 feet wide and 13.5 feet high. Other features of the auditorium at its opening were more advanced lighting, a control booth, lobby, box-office, college offices, dressing rooms, and a storage area for props and costumes.

The building was renovated and rededicated in the spring of 2009 with money raised during the most recent Capital Campaign in 2008, for which Linkletter served as honorary chair. For this reason the Linkletter Foyer carries his name. A generous amount was also provided once again by the George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation. Renovations included a new entrance, a new façade of glass, brick, and limestone, new flooring, and a track-lighted ceiling. Other improvements were new stage flooring, curtains, sound system, carpeting, and acoustical wall panels. The Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for the renovated Fuller Arts Center was held on Thursday, March 5, 2009 at Noon. Speaking at the unveiling, President Richard B. Flynn said, “The Fuller Arts Center has been a center of activity on our campus and in our community for a quarter of a century. Now, with technology and enhancements that make it more useful, accessible, comfortable, and attractive, it is equipped to present the sophisticated arts events and college programs that are integral to first-quality higher education and the cultural life of our region.”

Scope and Contents of the Collection

This collection documents the Fuller Arts Center from its construction through its most recent renovations in 2009. The collection includes general information, 13 original blueprints created on February 1, 1983 (including elevations, electrical and floor dimensions), newspaper articles regarding the construction of the building and the dedication program, information on the funding of the building (including proposals to Spalding and the Kresge Foundation), Memos and other documentary information on the funding and construction of the building (including information on class donations and early funding from student activities such as Best of Broadway), some news releases from Springfield College on the construction and funding of the Fuller Arts Center, Dedication Materials from both the original dedication and the 2009 renovations, architect drawing and promotional prints, and photographs of the interior and exterior of the building. Of particular note are the dedication materials from the original dedication program in 1984 that was hosted by Art Linkletter. Pictures of Art Linkletter, the original script, programs, and other planning documents are included. There are interior & exterior photographs from both before and after the 2009 renovations.

There is also the plaque/painting to the dedication of the Appleton Auditorium. This plaque measures 24 ½” wide x 42 ½” high x 3 ½” deep. It has a wood frame and glass front. Inside of this case is a painting of Allen E. Appleton and the dedication plaque that says, “Appleton Auditorium / The gift of Julius H. and Louise B. Appleton/ In Memory of their Son Allen E. Appleton / In the history of Springfield College, the Appleton Family has played a major role. Dr. Julius Appleton’s services as Trustee spans half a century, and he holds the record for length of active Trusteeship. His distinguished legal counsel, his services as President of the College Corporation, and his leadership carried on a family tradition which began in the early years of the college. He was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws in 1966. Mrs. Appleton, a leader in community service prior to their retirement to Florida, shares his devotion to Springfield College.”