When Old Main was first built in 1925, the north auditorium that is now Ann Nicole Nelson Hall was McFarland Auditorium in honor of the college’s third president.
It was originally built with windows, radiator heating that would clang during concerts, no orchestra pit and no climate control.
In February of 2003, a memorial donation (among many other contributions) helped turn the building at Minot State University into a staple on campus, in the city, and in the state.
“I would say, as a musician, this is one of the finest halls if not the finest hall in the state, seriously,” Jon Rumney, professor of music since 1994, said. “I have played well over 100 concerts in this hall. It is an instrument in itself. You can sit anywhere in this hall, and hear everything and that’s special, you can’t do that in many halls.”
The nearly 100-year-old theatre inside Old Main received new life.
“It’s a real theatre,” Associate Professor of Music and the Conductor of the Minot Symphony Orchestra, Efrain Amaya said. “The acoustics are what makes it very special. To have in a place like this, a hall of this magnitude is great.”
Who it honors, however, resonates perhaps more than the sound of music that is valued by so many people.
Rumney said, “When we introduce new students to the name Ann Nicole Nelson Hall, I think that they’re curious why it’s named that and so I think that they learn quickly.”
Ann Nicole Nelson was among the nearly 3,000 people who died in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.
She worked as a bond broker for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center.
“Her name comes as a symbol, a reminder of what happened and the loss a lot of people went through personally besides the sense of loss that we all felt that day,” said Amaya.
Ann is remembered to have lived a joyful and purposeful life. She traveled the country and many others, enjoyed sports and loved to celebrate special occasions.
Cases on both sides of the theatre’s entrance display Ann’s memory.
They also note the wishes of her parents, Jenette and Gary Nelson, whose contributions helped make Ann Nicole Nelson Hall commemorate their daughter and a lasting reminder of 9/11 and the events thereafter.
“I was just thinking today,” Rumney said, “I have not been to New York since, and in a few weeks I’ll be flying into Laguardia. It’ll be the first time I’ll see Manhattan without the Twin Towers and I’ll be thinking of Ann Nicole Nelson.”
Ann was laid to rest on May 17, 2002, in Stanley on what would have been her 31st birthday.
There will always be a place for Ann’s family among the more than 950 seats of the hall.
Another music professor at Minot State, DeVera Bowles, expressed immense gratitude to the Nelsons and noted that part of the hall’s dedication is that it remain Ann Nicole Nelson Hall, that it never be shortened to Nelson Hall.
She also said that international guest artists have paused mid-concert to remark that the acoustics in Ann Nicole Nelson hall rivals some of Europe’s best small concert halls.
Ann Nicole Nelson is Someone You Should Know.