TALLADEGA -- Music students at the Alabama School for the Blind will hear the sounds they make in a whole new way next year, after officials broke ground Saturday for the school’s new music building.
“We are so excited to be able to do this,” said Dr. John Mascia, president of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. “This is a project that has been discussed for decades. Our mission is to assist our children to find their God-given strengths and create an environment that fosters maximum growth of those strengths.”
Mascia welcomed ASB’s alumni who attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the new and improved version of Landreth Hall, held in conjunction with ASB’s Alumni Weekend, an event featuring more than 200 returning alumni.
“We’re thrilled to be able to do this groundbreaking during our alumni weekend because we’ve received so much encouragement from our alumni to continue to focus and grow our music program,” Mascia said. “Our alumni share with us on a regular basis how important our expanded core curriculums, our music programs, our sports programs and our residential programs are.”
Construction officially begins in July for the more than $1.5 million, 7,400 square-foot facility named after Eugene Landreth, who became ASB’s first band director in 1934. Landreth held the position for more than 45 years.
“We’re hanging onto the heritage of the music program by continuing to honor Mr. Landreth and his spirit,” Mascia said.
He said the funds to build the building came through a one-time appropriation of $1 million from state legislators, with the rest coming through donations to the AIDB Foundation.
“We’re still in the process of raising some money for some sound equipment, musical instruments and some furniture,” Mascia said. “We’re grateful for the donations we’ve received through the appropriation and the foundation. We’re able to fund this project using a public and private partnership. We’re very pleased to do that because it’s a really good use of money.”
Mascia said the existing iteration of Landreth Hall, built in 1928 as a gymnasium, was modified in 1964 to serve as a band hall and was not designed with musical acoustics in mind.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t want my own children to have to use that building, and I certainly don’t want our ASB children to have to use it either,” Mascia said. “We want a building that helps our kids stay excited about their music education. We want to build it to where the acoustics are good, the equipment is good and our kids can be excited.”
The new facility will house ASB’s band, choir and piano instruction music programs, with a corridor separating the choir and piano area from the band room.
“Right now, our choral program is in one building and our band program is in another building,” Mascia said. “The new building allows us to consolidate all of our resources into one place.”
The building also contains multiple practice rooms, a library, storage rooms, a recording room, offices and an instrument repair room.
At the quarterly AIDB Board of Trustees meeting May 20, Mascia reported there was a delay in the approval process at the State Building Commission level, but the commission ultimately granted the approval for the project.
“We’re pleased that the Building Commission gave us the green light,” Mascia said. “We’re very, very excited to know this music building will be complete by this time next year.”
The 300-day construction project, awarded to George Hicks Construction, is estimated to be completed in May 2015.