Couple who gave $10M to Ordway project decline naming rights

  • Article by: ROHAN PRESTON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 12, 2014 - 2:02 PM

John and Ruth Huss gave $10 million, but declined having the concert hall named after them.

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A beam-raising ceremony was held at the new concert hall at the Ordway Center in St. Paul on Wednesday. David Synder, left, and Doug Sexton, of Ironworkers Local 512, guided the beam as it was put into place. The pine tree atop the beam is a Scandinavian tradition to bring good luck to the building.

Photo: KYNDELL HARKNESS • kyndell.harkness@startribune.com,

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St. Paul philanthropists John and Ruth Huss gave $10 million, the lead gift, to build the new concert hall at Ordway Center. But the couple declined to have the 1,100-seat venue named after them. Instead, it will have a posted plaque indicating their support and will simply be known as the concert hall, officials said Wednesday.

“They felt that the [1,900-seat] music hall did not have a name, so they didn’t think the concert hall should be any different,” said Kevin Ramach, president of the Arts Partnership, the umbrella group for the Ordway’s principal users, including the Ordway, Schubert Club, Minnesota Opera and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

The hall is part of an Ordway expansion that includes $40 million in construction costs and a $32 million endowment. But the project’s timetable was delayed by a year, increasing transition costs.

At a ceremony Wednesday in downtown St. Paul, construction workers hoisted an autographed steel beam to mark a topping-off of the concert hall’s main structure.

To date, the partnership has raised $80 million, officials said. Funding has come from corporations, individuals and taxpayers, including $16 million in state bonding and $3 million from the city of St. Paul.

The partnership seeks to raise $3 million more to reach $32 million in endowment funds, said Ramach, who also is president and general director of Minnesota Opera.

While the Husses were modest about having the new hall named for them, other important donors will have their names on public spaces. The Ordway’s first-floor lobby and outside area fronting Rice Park will be known as 3M Plaza. All the public spaces on the second level of the Ordway will be known as the Target Atrium, while the third-level lobby in both the new and existing facilities will honor Securian, whose chairman and CEO, Bob Senkler, teamed up with Carleen Rhodes, president and CEO of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, to forge the partnership.

The shoebox-shaped concert hall, designed by HGA architects, is expected to be completed in time for a gala celebration on February 28. The following week, the Ordway will have performances by all of its principal tenants.

“When we open that first weekend of March, all four organizations will be in the Ordway,” said Ramach. “It’s a really proud moment for all of us.”

 

Rohan Preston • 612-673-4390

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  • Lucy Jones signed the names of donors Mahlen and Karen Schneider, who couldn’t make it to the ceremony, to the beam that will go at the top of the new structure at the Ordway Center.

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