Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Porter Fine Arts Building

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Institution Name: Wesleyan College
Original/Historic Place Name: Porter Fine Arts Building
Location on Campus: Redmond Circle
Date(s) of Construction:
1955original construction Dunwody, W. Elliott, Jr.
Designer: W. Elliott Dunwody, Jr.
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Beaux-Arts classicism, Colonial revival (Glossary)
Significance: culture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: poured concrete
Walls: brick
Roof: shingle
ca. 1955other (recital halls)
ca. 1955-present (2006)other (practice rooms)
ca. 1955-present (2006)chapel
ca. 1955-present (2006)auditorium
ca. 1955-present (2006)classrooms (for music and theater departments)
ca. 2004-present (2006)theater (black box theater)

Another structure named for members of the James Hyde Porter family, the Porter Fine Arts Building was completed in 1956. It houses the largest auditorium in the mid-state (1,129-seat capacity), and serves as a cultural center for the campus and community. In addition to classrooms and music and theatre studios, it is home to the college's Division of Fine Arts.

The auditorium has recently undergone a welcome facelift, with new paint and carpet and a new back curtain for the stage. Plans are under way for more extensive adaptation and renovation with the assistance of a professional consultant; these plans include the installation of a passenger elevator, which has already been funded with a $75,000 grant from the Porter Foundation. The Grassmann-Porter Studio Theatre, an intimate, flexible "black-box" studio for theatre and dance productions, opened in 1994 through the generous support of the Grassmann Trust and the Porter Family Foundation.

In 1984, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, under the late Robert Shaw, presented a celebration concert in honor of the inauguration of the college's 22nd president, Robert K. Ackerman. The Goodwyn-Candler Organ is one of the largest pipe organs in the Southeast, with four manuals and six divisions, and 89 ranks totaling 4,932 pipes. Originally built and installed in the home of the late Asa G. Candler, Jr., of Atlanta, it was presented to Wesleyan by Mr. Candler in honor of his wife. It was restored in 1989 by Elsie Lowell Maxwell Hambright of the Class of 1934, in memory of her mother, Belle Pound Goodwyn of the Class of 1874.

The Cowles Myles Collier Art Galleries were established by the late Mrs. Georgie Comer Collier in memory of her father, whose paintings hang in the West Gallery along with other works from Wesleyan's permanent collections. (For more on the collections, see Wesleyan Magazine, Spring 1999.) The East Gallery houses traveling, faculty, and student exhibitions.
In the stairwell can be found an important Wesleyan artifact two gilded pier mirrors (gifts of the Napier family of Macon) that once hung in Wesleyan's original downtown building and are too tall for any other space on the present campus. Student legend has it that the resident campus ghost, "Rosemary," can be detected in the mirror in the West stairwell.


Akers, Samuel L. The First Hundred Years of Wesleyan College, 1836-1936. Macon, GA: Wesleyan College, 1976.

Miller, Margaret. "The Founding and Early History of Wesleyan College." M. A. thesis, University of Georgia, 1935.

Quillian, William Fletcher. A New Day for Historic Wesleyan. Nashville, TN: Printed for Wesleyan College, Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, [1928?].

Rees, Frances. "A History of Wesleyan Female College from 1836 to 1874." M. A. thesis, Emory University, 1935.

Thomas, Kenneth H., Bamby Ray, and Lynn Speno. Wesleyan College Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 2004.


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Last update: November 2006