Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

EPISCOPAL HIGH SCHOOL DEDICATION; New School Facilities Blend Faith, Arts the $10.5 Million Center Is Opening Today, 18 Months after Ground Was Broken

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

EPISCOPAL HIGH SCHOOL DEDICATION; New School Facilities Blend Faith, Arts the $10.5 Million Center Is Opening Today, 18 Months after Ground Was Broken

Article excerpt

Byline: CYNTHIA L. GARZA, The Times-Union

A wooden cross bound by strings that can be lowered for worship services on the stage of Episcopal High School of Jacksonville's new 700-capacity theater shows the blending of faith and the arts at the school's new facilities.

The school will host the grand opening and dedication of its new $10.5 million Jane S. and W. Wilson Munnerlyn Center for Worship and Fine Arts today, 18 months after ground was broken for it.

In addition to the theater, the 28,000-square-foot center includes a 50-seat chapel and an art gallery as well as various studios, dressing rooms and offices.

Headmaster Charles F. Zimmer will also announce the end of the private school's $17 million capital campaign, which funded the new center as well as a new $2 million, 16,000-square-foot Walton Boathouse and Riverfront Activity Center.

The arts-faith combination of the new Munnerlyn Center is something school officials said felt like a natural tie.

"Arts are a part of the spiritual development of the student," said DeAnn Collins, director of communications and publications for the school.

The theater is a compromise of the school's need for a chapel and a performing arts theater and auditorium. The theater design can be transformed into the school's chapel by closing a back curtain and lowering an overhead cross. Steps that come off the stage and onto the aisle will help facilitate communion services.

"The bottom line here is that it was important to have a space that felt like a place of worship during chapel, but also felt like a theater when used for that purpose," Zimmer said. "I think we have accomplished that."

The theater will be used for fine arts performances, lectures, special events and the school's weekly chapel services.

"We've had state-of-the-art programs. We have now the facilities that match the programs," said Sally Maguire Deming, director of fine arts. …

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