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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Steve Wesner, president of the Robert Goldstine Foundation’s board of trustees, talks Wednesday about the $1 million gift to the University of Saint Francis for renovations of the former Scottish Rite Center, which the university has renamed the Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center.

Saint Francis center gets $1 million gift, new name

– The University of Saint Francis’ downtown performing arts center has a new name and additional funding earmarked for building renovations, university officials announced Wednesday.

The performing arts center, 431 W. Berry St., will be called the Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center in honor of longtime friend and benefactor of the university, Bob Goldstine.

“Bob cared for people, education and the preservation of historic structures,” Saint Francis President Sister M. Elise Kriss said. “It is very fitting, then, that we name this historic building, which will serve as an education center in downtown Fort Wayne, for Bob Goldstine.”

The Robert Goldstine Foundation, established after Goldstine’s death in June 2001, made a $1 million gift to enhance the center.

The gift will be included as part of a $12.3 million project that includes renovating two historic buildings – the former Chamber of Commerce, 826 Ewing St., and the performing arts center, formerly the Scottish Rite Center.

The Catholic university needs about $5 million for upgrades and renovations at each building, Kriss said.

The university has already spent about $2.3 million buying the two buildings. Both were built in the 1920s.

Including the Goldstine Foundation gift, the university has raised about $6.5 million of the $12.3 million goal, Kriss said.

In January, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry announced a plan to contribute $3 million in Legacy money toward renovations. City Council members voted 6-1 to approve the measure with John Crawford, R-at large, voting no.

The university also received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. in addition to financial support from other individuals and organizations, Kriss said.

Kriss said the university hopes to begin work on the two buildings early next year and expects the renovations to take about a year to complete.

The university estimates 300 students will be enrolled in programs based out of the downtown campus, with the capacity to grow to about 500.

The Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center will include offices, classrooms, studios and space for music technology students and performances.

Steve Wesner, president of the foundation’s board of trustees, said Goldstine prioritized education, downtown growth and prosperity, and the University of Saint Francis throughout his lifetime.

“Bob’s foundation gift to the University of Saint Francis for the development of this downtown facility, which will educate in the arts and theater and will also help stabilize the downtown west central residential area, was a perfect fit,” said Wesner, Goldstine’s long time friend.

Goldstine was trustee emeritus for the university’s board from 1975 to 2001 and emeritus member of the university relations committee from 1995 to 2001, according to the university.

A longtime Realtor and Fort Wayne land developer, he was chairman of Goldstine & Son Inc., a commercial and industrial real estate company founded by his grandfather.

Goldstine was also involved in community development and took special interest in preserving historic structures such as Embassy Theatre.

“(The theatre) was so important to the quality of life in Fort Wayne, and the Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center at the University of Saint Francis, the former Scottish Rite Center, is another such structure,” Wesner said. “It develops downtown rather than allowing it to deteriorate.”