The Wayne State University Board of Governors approved a $65 million project Friday to renovate and expand its Hilberry Theatre, quadrupling the school’s fine arts performance space.

The new complex will host theater, dance, jazz and other musical performances and programming.

As part of the project, Hilberry Theatre’s 23,000 square feet will be renovated and a 71,300-square-foot addition built. Most of the cost – $55 million – will be funded by bonds approved last month by the Board of Governor, with a $9.5 million gift from Gretchen Valade covering most of the rest.

“The immense talent of our students and faculty at last will have the arts facilities to match,” Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson said in a statement. “The Hilberry Complex will make Wayne State a true destination for culture and the arts, which supports our goals to provide leadership in the revitalization of Detroit as well as meaningful and mutually beneficial interactions with our community.”

Construction will begin this fall on a new main theater at the corner of Cass and Forest, next to the current theater.

Once the new theater is finished, the current Hilberry Theatre will be renovated into the Gretchen Valade Jazz Center.

WSU bought the First Church of Christ Scientist, built in 1917, and converted it into the Hilberry Theatre in the early 1960s.

Read or Share this story: