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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Fanfare Re-opens Stella Boyle Smith Hall

UALR celebrated the re-opening of the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall and the dedication of the Remmel Family Fine Arts Lobby with a reception and music performances by the UALR music faculty.

Renovations of the hall began May 16. The Stella Boyle Smith Trust contributed $385,000 and Ruth Rebsamen Remmel, Mary Remmel Wohlleb, and Dr. Raymond Remmel all of Little Rock contributed $100,000 total to the project. See more photos of the makeover.

The architecture and planning firm of Witsell Evans Rasco Architects/Planners handled the renovations.

“The University is grateful to the Stella Boyle Smith Trust and the Rebsamen Fund and for their investment in the arts at UALR,” said Chancellor Joel E. Anderson. “The newly renovated Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall will help the University to showcase its own artistic talents as well as those of the broader central Arkansas community. UALR graduates play vital roles in making it possible for all of us to enjoy the nurturing of mind and heart that comes so powerfully from the arts.”

The project included installation of a new lighting system, seating, an over-stage truss system, a new indoor box office, carpeting for one of the galleries, a communication system for the hall, and renovation of the garden behind the concert hall which will host outdoor receptions.

“The modernization of the hall will be invaluable to students working toward a future in the arts,” said Deborah Baldwin, dean of the UALR’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. “Our faculty now have better resources to prepare our students for their chosen fields.”

Stella Boyle Smith, for whom the concert hall is named, was born in Farmington, Mo., into a large, musically inclined family, that later moved to Arkansas when she was two. Her second husband, George Smith, held various business interests and extensive farms in Woodruff and Arkansas counties, which allowed them to engage in philanthropy.

A pianist, Smith’s love for music inspired her to start the Musical Group in 1923 in the living room of her home in Little Rock where she lived until her death in 1994.

Initially established as an educational tool for children, the group became the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in 1966.

In 1988 she presented UALR a grand piano as well as an endowed trust of $500,000. UALR renamed its concert hall the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall as a tribute to her.

The Remmel family has supported the University for generations, beginning in 1947. Ruth Remmel’s father, Raymond Rebsamen, donated the 80-acre tract of land that the University’s main campus now occupies.

The gift for the concert hall renovation is given by the Remmel family in honor of Haskell Dickinson, Mary Remmel’s nephew, and chair of UALR’s Comprehensive Campaign.”