Redone hall at Peabody gets name

After 75 years, one of the busiest concert halls at Baltimore's Peabody Institute finally has a name.

The Douglas and Hilda Goodwin Recital Hall is the name of a 200-seat performance space that has been used for conservatory recitals and master classes since 1927.


It was dedicated last month after a renovation that resulted in new seats, a refinished floor, a quieter mechanical system, improved acoustics and a two-tone repainting that highlights its neoclassical architectural features.

It was named for two longtime Peabody supporters and Mount Washington residents who donated funds to help renovate the room, located in the basement of Leakin Hall at 21 E. Mount Vernon Place.


"Hilda and Douglas are wonderful friends of Peabody, and I am so pleased that their names will now be associated with Peabody in perpetuity," said institute director Robert Sirota. "It is a fitting tribute to this most generous couple."

Goodwin Hall is one of the first spaces at Peabody to reopen since the institute launched a $26.8 million renovation in the summer of 2001. Peabody officials and contractors say the renovation has passed the halfway mark and is slated for completion by the end of 2003.

"We're right on schedule," said Steve Bond, project superintendent for Gilbane Building Co. of Laurel, the construction manager. "We're going to have it all done a year from now."

The renovation has been designed to upgrade and expand Peabody facilities throughout the block bounded by Charles, Centre and St. Paul streets and Mount Vernon Place.

A key element is the reopening of the original grand entrance at 17 E. Mount Vernon Place, and construction of an arcade that will link buildings on campus.

Plans by Quinn Evans Architects of Washington and Ann Arbor, Mich., also call for Peabody to gain new classrooms, practice studios, faculty offices, a theater and lecture hall, box office, piano repair workshop and other spaces. The next spaces to be completed are six practice rooms, which will open in January.

One challenge for the construction team has been to finish the renovations without disrupting classes, concerts or students living on campus. The fastest way to finish construction would have been to close the institute for a year and renovate every building at once, but that was never an option.

Bond said Gilbane will take advantage of a three-week break in classes around Christmas to complete key portions of the mid-lock arcade that will connect several campus buildings with a new visitors center.


The renovation was originally budgeted to cost $24 million, but that figure has grown. Reasons for the increase include the cost of working around the students and addressing unforeseen conditions, such as the lack of underpinning for one key building and corroded pipes under the Peabody Library.

Contractors have also made some pleasing discoveries, such as a handsome marble floor hidden under carpet near one entrance. Also, concert attendance has not declined, as administrators feared it might.

"It's way up," said Peabody spokeswoman Anne Garside. "Our concerts have been full. Maybe the construction work is an attraction."

Now that the work is halfway done, officials say they believe they have uncovered all the major surprises and that the cost will not continue to rise. In addition, they say, Peabody has raised more than $20 million needed to complete the renovations and they are confident the rest will be raised within a year.

Goodwin Hall is less visible to the concert-going public than Peabody's main Friedberg Concert Hall and Griswold Recital Hall, but it is used heavily by many of the conservatory's approximately 4,000 students. Its size makes it less intimidating to young musicians performing in public for the first time.

Among the students who have performed there is Hilda Goodwin, who started piano lessons at the preparatory school when she was a child. She went on to enroll in the Peabody Conservatory, where she received an undergraduate teacher's certificate in 1954 and a Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy in 1967. She currently serves as a member of the Peabody Advisory Council. She and her husband, a former builder and beer distributor, have made many contributions to Peabody.


Before it was named for the Goodwins, the performing space was called Leakin Hall. With the restoration now complete, Sirota said, the hall is like "a small jewel, restored to its original luster."

Small town synagogues

The role of synagogues in defining small-town Jewish life will be the subject of the annual Samson, Rossetta and Sadie B. Feldman lecture from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, 15 Lloyd St. in Baltimore. Lee Shai Weiss- bach, professor of history at the University of Louisville, is the featured speaker.

Weissbach's talk, "Community Buildings and Community Building: The Synagogues of Small Town America," is being held in conjunction with a new exhibit at the museum, "We Call This Place Home: Jewish Life in Maryland's Small Towns," and will be followed by a discussion and reception. The program is free and open to the public.

Vincent Scully Prize

The National Building Museum's Vincent Scully Prize for 2002 will be presented to Philadelphia-based architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.


As part of the event, Scott Brown and Venturi will present a lecture entitled "Context in Context," exploring ways in which architects, designers and others respond to the physical, cultural and urbanistic characteristics that affect a given project.

The museum is at 401 F St. NW in Washington. Ticket prices are $18 for museum members, $23 for nonmembers and $10 for students. Prepaid registration is required. To register, call 202-272-2448.