Palmer Seat-Naming Initiative Celebrates Future of Restored, Historic Auditorium

As part of the grand re-opening celebration for the iconic Palmer Auditorium planned for April 29, 2022, Connecticut College is offering donors a unique opportunity to support the future of the arts at Conn by naming a seat in the Art Deco architectural gem.

The complete renovation by Ennead Architects maintains the building’s distinct historic character and preserves the superior acoustics while transforming it into a new center for creative research and performance, profoundly impacting the study and practice of theater, music, film and dance at Conn.

The seat-naming initiative offers both Conn alumni and friends of the arts the chance to name a seat for themselves or in honor of a loved one, while promoting pioneering artistic productions and new creative works that provide the broader community access to performing arts events unavailable anywhere else in the region.

Palmer Auditorium was visionary when it opened in 1939 under the leadership of President Katharine Blunt—a 1300-seat hall, designed by William Lamb, principal architect of the Empire State Building, built to serve not just the campus but the surrounding community. Over the years, it has played host to numerous prominent speakers and performers, including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Martha Graham, José Limón, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Alvin Ailey, Dizzy Gillespie, Yo-Yo Ma, Billy Joel, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton, Frank Lloyd Wright, Toni Morrison and others.

The nearly $24 million, two-year renovation of Palmer Auditorium was made possible by a $10 million gift from Nancy Athey ’72 and her husband, Preston Athey, longtime supporters of the College and its arts programs, and a $10 million grant from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation. The creation of the new Athey Center for Performance and Research at Palmer Auditorium elevates the College’s commitment to the arts and reputation for educational innovation, a priority of the Defy Boundaries Campaign.

Support for the seat-naming initiative helps fund the endowment for new programming and for maintaining the state-of-the-art center for arts research and creative innovation.

Seat-Naming Opportunities

Diagram of Palmer Auditorium - showing the seat level sections

sapphire level

Sapphire: $15,000

(first two rows)

emerald level

Emerald: $10,000

(lower orchestra)

ruby level

Ruby: $5,000

(upper orchestra)

To name a seat in Palmer Auditorium, please contact Mariko Moher, Director of Donor Relations & Stewardship, at 860-439-2308.


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