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About the Project
The Joseph & Blanche Coutu Theater is the latest addition to Saint Raphael Academy’s 7-building, historic campus and is constructed within the space that was formerly the Dennis M. Lynch, Jr. Memorial Gymnasium. The Coutu Theater and associated renovations include a 300-seat, state-of-the-art performance space, a 1,600 square-foot art gallery, a renovated ticket booth, and improved storage and set-design space.
Working with architecture firm, Vision 3 Architects, and construction management company, E. Turgeon Construction Corporation, Saint Raphael Academy now has a performance space like none other in the region—it maintains the historical integrity of the Academy’s Quality Hill campus while providing a state-of-the-art space for the Fine Arts. Saint Raphael Academy’s Drama Club, which is a 19-time State Drama Festival winner, now has a space that is worthy of its success. The design boasts an intimate setting, stadium-style seating, and acoustical design that will make each visit to the Coutu Theater memorable.
“I could not be happier with the Coutu Theater,” said Terry Murray, who was recently awarded lifetime membership to the New England Drama Council and has taught at the Academy for more than 30 years. “The performing arts at Saint Raphael Academy has done so much; now the students get the opportunity to perform in one of the finest spaces in the region.”
“We already have one of the best—if the not the best—athletic spaces in Alumni Hall. Now our students have the very best performing arts space as well,” says Principal Daniel Richard. “We brought all the best in the region to the table—from architects, to designers, to construction managers, to supporters of Saint Ray’s—and we created a transformational performance space for many generations of SAINTS to come.”
The $1.3 million, fully-funded project was made possible through a generous gift from the Joseph C. and Blanche Coutu Foundation, and through the generosity of many other Saint Raphael Academy alumni and supporters who gave to the “Time Is Now” Capital Campaign.
Joseph C. and Blanche Coutu were lifelong Pawtucket residents and parishioners at St. Teresa of the Child Jesus Church. Mr. Coutu was a successful businessman and after his death in 1987, Mrs. Coutu specified in her will, that upon her death, her estate would establish a charitable foundation. The Coutu’s were devout Catholics, and they recognized the value of good education. They truly loved to see young people perform and develop their performing skills when given the opportunity.
Pre-construction and site-prep work began over the summer, as crews began readying the space and bringing the existing structure up to code. Heavy construction began shortly before the school year and continued into the Christmas season. Since the start of the new year, crews have been working diligently to make sure all the finishing touches are in place for the February 7-9 Grand Opening Gala Weekend.
To help further invest in Fine Arts technology and instruction, Saint Raphael Academy will be offering alumni, students, families, faculty, and friends the opportunity to “buy” a seat and add their name to this historic addition.
As a way to continue to honor and remember Dennis M. Lynch Jr., the Saint Raphael Academy graduate and coach for whom the Lynch Gymnasium was named, the court at Alumni Hall was dedicated to his memory. An official dedication ceremony for “Dennis M. Lynch, Jr. Memorial Court” was held on December 27, 2013.