Modernization of Waterman Theatre Marks First Step in Tyler Renovation


An architects’ renderings depict the inside of Waterman Theatre following the planned renovation of Tyler Hall. Many other new and improved features are included in the $22.2 million rejuvenation of the 46-year-old building.

Contractors have been working since the end of spring 2014 semester on the first phase of renovations that will make Tyler Hall a premier home for Oswego’s fine and performing arts program. The curtain has fallen on the 1968 version of Waterman Theatre and will rise in spring 2016 for the debut of an accessible facility with modern seating, lighting and media.

“The bones of the theatre are great,” says Theatre Department Professor and Chair Jessica Hester. “The upgrades to Waterman will give our technical and design students experience on the equipment used in professional theatres. We can’t wait to show off our fabulous new facilities.”

“The Waterman makeover sets the stage for future upgrades in the remaining sections of Tyler Hall,” says Fritz Messere ’71 M’76, dean of the Oswego School of Communication, Media and the Arts. Subsequent phases are contingent upon the allocation of funding from New York State.

The renovations will provide a two-story music rehearsal hall that doubles as a small-performance venue, façade improvements, new entrances and elevator, expanded box office, larger art gallery, a digital media lab and recording studio, and a wide, welcoming lobby. In the interim, a theatre in the round has been set up in Hewitt Union for some performances, and events will be held in venues across campus and throughout the city.

Tyler Hall Renovations

An architects’ renderings depict the new rehearsal and small recital space following the planned renovation of Tyler Hall.

Dr. Julie Pretzat, associate dean of SCMA, quotes the motto used by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art during renovations: “Closed for construction, but more open than ever!” to define the resourceful scheduling by campus theatre, music and art departments and by Artswego, which coordinates a performing arts series for campus and community. New performance spaces could generate increased excitement and larger audiences, Pretzat says.

Messere expects the new facilities—particularly the music rehearsal hall—coupled with outstanding faculty, to attract incoming students who are as talented as alumni who preceded them and to maintain Oswego’s long-standing reputation as a premier college for arts education.

“The $22.2 million phase I project initiates what we intend to be a complete enhancement, including moving all communication studies and graphic design programs to a reimagined space in what is now Hewitt Union,” Messere says. “My goal is to combine visual communication, multimedia communication and the fine and performing arts in one vibrant arts district on campus.”

—Linda Loomis ’90 M’97


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