Murphy Fine Arts Center Celebrates Two Decades of Enchantment
Morgan State University’s architectural gem at 2201 Argonne Drive was many years in the making. The long timeline began in the early 1990s, when Morgan Director of Bands Melvin Miles Jr., ’73 and ’78; Gabriel Tenabe, director of the University’s James E. Lewis Museum of Art (JELMA); Morgan Choir Director Nathan Carter, D.M.A.; Clinton Johnson, ’70, technical director and coordinator of Morgan’s Theatre Arts program; and Morgan President Earl Richardson, Ed.D., were tasked with serving on the planning and design committee for the University’s new fine arts facility.
The group was more than ready for the changes the new building would bring. Together, Tenabe and Miles had nearly four decades of experience working at Morgan by then, and Tenabe and his team had spent much of that time dodging ceiling leaks and wrestling with problems with accessibility to exhibit areas and the loading dock of the Gallery of Art, which was later renamed JELMA. Miles, Johnson and Dr. Carter had coped with inadequate space for their students to practice and rehearse, and the choir had grown accustomed to making the four-mile trip downtown from Morgan’s campus to the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to perform. The attractive building where all those programs were housed, the original Carl J. Murphy Auditorium and Fine Arts Center, had its official opening in May 1960, on the current site of Morgan’s Richardson Library, and was badly in need of a refresh.