Managing a 550-acre campus with more than a dozen buildings requires a lot of work and resources.
In the early 2000s the Board of St Andrew’s-Sewanee School took a step to require that fundraising for all new construction include funding for the maintenance of the facilities.
The first building constructed after the policy was introduced was McCrory Hall for the Performing Arts, the school’s performance venue.
John S. Zegel, a member of St. Andrew’s class of 1952, rose to the challenge.
In 2007, Zegel informed SAS that the school had been included as a beneficiary of his estate. When he died in March 2021 at the age of 86, St. Andrew’s-Sewanee was informed that Zegel had left more than $1.8 million to fund the school’s general endowments and establish the John Stoufer Zesel Fund to provide ongoing support for the operation and maintenance of SAS’s McCrory Hall for the Performing Arts and the music and drama programs hosted there.
A native of Colorado, Zegel has long lived in Santa Fe. He was born into a prominent New Mexico family. His father was a ranch owner and his mother was a classically trained pianist.
After graduating from St. Andrew’s, Zesel received his bachelor’s degree from Pomona College and pursued graduate studies in the classics at Harvard.
He then taught at Cal Tech in the University of Colorado system at Grand Junction, and eventually became Professor Emeritus of English at Mesa State University.
Influenced by his mother, Zegel’s musical ability was with the violin. As a teenager he performed publicly with Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.
Decades later, in retirement, he retained a keen interest in musical organizations, frequenting concerts and opera, and serving on the board of the Grand Junction Symphony.
Dedicated in 2009, McCrory Hall for the Performing Arts was made possible through the generosity of Martha McCrory, longtime director of the Sewanee Summer Music Center at the University of the South, and the many donors who joined McCrory to support St. Andrew’s- Sewanee and the surrounding community with a room for musical performances.
As an arts center for the region as well as an auditorium for the school, the building also provides space for music classes, rehearsals, private tuition, theater, technical theater, and songwriting and recording programs.
The facility includes an acoustically rich 300-seat auditorium, music classroom and recording studio. Each year thousands of guests come to McCrory Hall to enjoy plays, musicals, speakers and concerts.
The SAS student body meets several times a week for school assemblies in the hall. In recent years, McCrory Hall has welcomed performances from the Sewanee Summer Music Festival.
Over the years McCrory Hall for the Performing Arts has also hosted a variety of professional performances including Amanda Shires, The Vega Quartet, The Blakemore Trio, Jack Pearson, Act of Congress, Emma King and the Heart Sets, The Tennessee Fiddle Ensemble, the MTSU Guitar Quartet, the Anima Baroque Ensemble and more.
“Many years ago,” said SAS Headmaster Karl Sjolund, “Jack [Zeigel] said one of our employees: ‘Where your treasure is, there is also your heart.’ We are grateful that Jack’s heart and soul were in St Andrew’s-Sewanee. We look forward to honoring his memory with beautiful music for many generations to come.”
Thanks to the generosity of its alumni and friends, St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School’s endowment currently exceeds $25 million.