The John Lyons Center was a recent addition to New England College in the 2016-2017 academic year. In the fall semester of the 2019-2020 year, another new addition is coming to the New England College campus, the Rosamond Page Putnam Center for the Performing Arts.
The Putnam Center will be an expertly designed performing arts facility, with over 21,000 square feet and 350 individual seats, all with a great view of the stage. Although the space may seem large and with too much seating for just the school, the lack of theaters in the area make it a good bet that audiences will find and fill it.
Not only will the Putnam Center be used for theater productions put on by the college and surrounding towns, but the design will accommodate a variety of programming such as dance and musical performances, political forums and debates, professional lectures, and summer arts programs.
The Center will include a lobby, box office, control room, dressing rooms, washer and dryer, showers, and mezzanine encompassing three floors. The building will be designed to prevent outside sounds (trucks, rain, etc.) from traveling inside, for a quiet show. The inside heating systems will also be crafted to be silent so audiences may fully enjoy the show.
The stage will be designed as a thrust stage, which is a great fit for the New England College community because it allows the actors to come into the audience, and really make them feel a part of the show.
The college began discussions for campus changes several years ago, working with Dewing Schmid Kearns, DSK, to plan the best future for the campus. DSK analyzed the current land and buildings, and decided what modifications and additions were the best fit. DSK recommended that NEC update current spaces, and build four new buildings, a new dorm, new athletic center, new classrooms, and a new theatre.
The dorm project has been put on hold for now, but discussions continue and renovations on existing residence halls have occurred. The athletic center is a huge discussion for the school, considering the large population of student athletes at NEC, but no specific plans have been put to action yet. The John Lyons Center was the new classroom building brought to campus, which DSK designed. The Putnam Center’s look will be similar, yet different from the Lyons Center.
“We wanted something that could blend in with the school, but also stand out,” said President Michele Perkins.
Perkins stated that the Lyons Center has a quiet elegance about it, blending in with the New Hampshire landscape, but not overstated. Just like the Lyons Center, the new Putnam Center is designed to look beautiful in its simplicity. Not to match the Lyons Center, but to be separate, but also belong with it.
New England College is grateful for the many donors that have made it possible to create The Putnam Center. Tom and Barbara Putnam, and their family, pledged a 3-million-dollar gift towards the development of the new building. Along with the generous donation from the Putnam family, Jay Gould, ’75, pledged $500K in memory of his brother Jon Gould, who will be honored by naming the new lobby after him. Lex Scourby, ’75, matched Gould’s gift to help complete the building process.
The reasoning for the Putnam Family’s donation goes back further than just NEC. Rosamand Page, who the building is named after, was the mother of the Putnam family and a devoted actress in the theatre. The father met Rosamand during one of her shows, and was taken by her, and later they were married and had children. Although she cared so much about the theatre, Rosamand cared more about her family, so she left her dream in the theatre to become a mother. In honor of their mother, the Putnam Family’s donation created a legacy in Rosamand’s name.
President Perkins also has a personal connection to the new building: “Of all the facilities projects we’ve undertaken, the Putnam Center is my greatest joy. I studied theatre (both my Bachelor’s and Master’s are in Theatre) and taught speech and drama before becoming a higher education administrator. We have an outstanding Theatre program here at NEC. I believe Theatre is essential to a complete liberal arts education and I look forward to seeing our students learning and performing in this beautiful new space.”