Athens State’s McCandless Hall Gets Facelift

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ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) -- "This auditorium has served as a focal point for the community as well as the college since 1914."

It has served as Athens' stage for more than one hundred years. Athens State University's historic McCandless Hall is getting a facelift--from the auditorium to the offices to the cherished pipe organ.

The facility, originally designated as the school's fine arts building, was renamed in 1926 for Katherine Leslie McCandless, a European-trained pianist who performed there in 1910.

The renovations will make the structure handicapped accessible, replace the aging stage and seating, re-open the structurally unsound balcony and refurbish existing office spaces. Most notably though, the renovation of building's 1892 tracker type pipe organ.

"They're going to actually add an automated blower but they're going to leave the old bellows-type blower on there so that students can actually pump the organ like they used to," explains director of development Ronnie Knox.

The community can help make it all possible while also leaving a name for posterity.

"We have naming opportunities for as small as $150 to put your name on one of the chairs in the auditorium all the way up to $5,000 offices and $10,000 classroom sponsorships."

Knox says renovations are being covered primarily through a loan, a federal grant and institutional funds but donations are still needed.

"Without the support of the community it's just very difficult in today's trying times with budget cuts and inflation for colleges to be able to offer programs on the cutting-edge like we're expected to do."

For information on making a gift contact Ronnie Knox at the office of development at 256-233-8188. You can email inquiries to

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