Trinity University’s Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center began to take form in the mid-1950s thanks to a generous series of gifts from Trustee, Vernon F. Taylor. G.W. Mitchell Construction was commissioned for construction of the first building of the Center, the music building, in 1955. The new Fine Arts Center expanded over the next 10 years with the addition of two other buildings, an art building and a theater. All three facilities were named for Taylor’s wife, Ruth.
After 40 years of educating hundreds of young musicians, artists, and actors, the need for expanded and updated facilities became inevitable. In 1998, a gift from the late Arthur Stieren, a Trinity Trustee, and his wife, Jane, funded extensive renovation of the Ruth Taylor Theater building, including the Jane and Arthur Stieren Theater. G.W. Mitchell Construction was once again contracted for the project, 43 years after their original construction of the music building. This project encompassed a complete gut and remodel of the theater facility involving the removal of existing seating, control facilities, portions of the stage and selected classrooms around the theater area. The project had many complex improvements including: new tiered seating on two levels to accommodate 500 people, construction of a traditional stage front and excavating an orchestra pit out of solid rock inside the building, all new interior finishes, a professional sound system as well as computerized, moving lights, allowing students to train with the same equipment they will be using in their profession. The project was built on a very tight 8 month schedule with a major event scheduled upon completion. This project won the Texas Building Branch AGC project of the year in the $1.5 to $5 million category.
Over the span of almost half a century, the Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center grew from one educational building to a cultural icon of the city of San Antonio. From the construction of the original music building to the completion of the Stieren Theater, Mitchell continued to leave a lasting mark on the Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center.