Embrace the Past: the History of PCAC
The story of the Paul Creative Arts Center is the story of the increased importance of the arts at UNH through the middle of the 20th century. In the late 30s and 40s, academic departments were created in the arts, and arts courses were being added to the University curriculum. By the 1950s, the multiplicity of courses offered and the student demand for those courses were too great to be absorbed easily by existing University structures, and plans for building a dedicated arts center were initiated. In 1957 the New Hampshire General Court authorized bonds for construction of a building that would house the center.
The center was enabled by a gift from Isabel and Harriet Paul of Newfields, New Hampshire—$800,000 of the final $2,500,000 cost for the center, at that time the largest gift ever received by the University. This major gift is memorialized in the naming of the Paul Creative Arts Center, which was officially dedicated in 1960 with a 3-day celebration that included panel discussions, lectures, and performances by the Juilliard String Quartet, among others.
The painting at left was created by John W. Hatch and depicts Isabel Paul who made the gift as the last survivor of her family. Miss Paul, a woman of culture who traveled extensively around the world, had no personal connection with the University, although she provided a college education for a number of students from Newfields. Her family made its fortune in the iron industry.