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Flagler auditorium undergoes renovation, name change

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The Flagler Auditorium wil be renovated and renamed Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College.

The Flagler Auditorium will be renovated and renamed Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College.

For more than 20 years, the Flagler College Auditorium has been the setting for a variety of programs that have attracted audiences to the Flagler College campus.

As important dates such as the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Hotel Ponce de Leon in 2013 draw closer, the college is making sure the venue is at its very best with a new name and a $1.5 million renovation.

With an expected completion on Aug. 15, the auditorium will be renamed Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College, in honor of the college’s founder, Lawrence Lewis.

“Mr. Lewis served as chairman of the Board of Trustees during the College’s first 20 years of existence, and his visionary leadership and his generous financial support were critical to the College’s development and progress in its formative years,” said Flagler College President William T. Abare, Jr. “It is fitting that we name this important building for Mr. Lewis and that, in doing so, we recognize and honor him for his many contributions to the College and the local community.”

The $1.5 million renovation will include new lighting and sound systems, seats, acoustical panels, renovated restrooms, a new lobby layout and a new green room for performers and speakers before going on stage.

In addition to honoring Lewis, Abare added that the name change is also to prevent confusion with Flagler Auditorium in Palm Coast.

“By changing the name of our auditorium, we should eliminate any confusion about the venues for events scheduled at the two facilities,” said Abare.

Since its opening in 1991, the auditorium has seen speakers such as authors Pat Conroy and Dennis Lehane; public figures such as Ambassador Andrew Young, Pat Buchanan and U.S. Senator George McGovern; journalists such as David Broder, William Raspberry, Robert Novak and Joe Klein; historians, such as Dr. Michael Gannon and Dr. William Kelso; and Biblical scholars Bishop N.T. Wright and John Dominic Crossan.

The college holds Flagler College Theatre Arts productions in the auditorium, as well lecture series like the Forum on Government and Public Policy and the Cecile & Gene Usdin Judeo-Christian Lecture Series, among others.

The auditorium is also used for community cultural programs, including the EMMA Concert series, the St. Augustine Community Ballet, the Nutcracker Ballet, the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival and community concerts. Most of these programs are offered to the community at no charge or at a nominal price for admission.

The first public event to be held at Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College will be the fall semester’s first Forum on Government and Public Policy on Sept. 11 featuring Bloomberg journalist Mark Silva speaking on “The 2012 Election: Too Close to Call?”