The Sitka Music Festival has purchased Stevenson Hall, on the historic campus of the former Sheldon Jackson College. The path to buying Stevenson Hall began four years ago. The building had been vacant ever since Sheldon Jackson College closed in 2007. When Stevenson went up for sale in 2010, the Festival was not in a position to buy. Fortunately, a friend of the festival stepped forward and bought the building, then held onto it until we could raise the funds. By early 2015, the Festival had raised the first round of funds and secured ownership of the building.
Finding a Home
Throughout the Sitka Music Festival’s history, world-class musicians have come to Sitka to perform throughout the month of June. Through the years, they had been staying at Stevenson Hall, but when Sheldon Jackson College closed in 2007, the Festival was forced to leave its home, and find other accommodations for its artists and staff. The cost of finding lodging for visiting musicians during Sitka’s busy summer visitor season was expensive, and it took away from our mission.
Purchasing and renovating Stevenson Hall gives us a permanent home that will help us improve our mission of providing top-caliber music across the entire state of Alaska. Stevenson Hall will become a year-round center for classical music. Having full control of the building will let us build our educational outreach programs, and host more artists throughout the year. Those programs and artists end up in Anchorage, Kotzebue, Bethel, Unalaska, Juneau, Talkeetna, and more than 30 communities across the state.
In other words, owning Stevenson Hall lets us create a home base to share the music we love with the state we love. The results of buying this one building in Sitka will be heard – quite literally – statewide.
Following the purchase of Stevenson Hall, we immediately embarked on another round of fundraising – in order to renovate and make the thorough improvements that were critical to saving the building and realizing our future vision. When we took ownership, there was no insulation, inadequate heat and electricity, and absolutely no sound proofing – important to our musicians who often rehearse simultaneously. Besides making the building more comfortable and useful to our artists and staff, we want to create a welcoming public space for visitors to enjoy our music and our company. Renovation work began in late 2019 and continues through 2020. We’ve raised over $4 million for this project – but there’s still a little ways to go.
We’re excited not only to keep this historic building alive, but also to transform it into an outstanding center for musicians and classical music. If you can help us finish our fundraising goal, please Donate Now.