Open-Air Amphitheater

Depiction of amphitheater

The summer of 2018 has seen great progress on the preparation and installation of an open-air amphitheater on the Sarah Lawrence campus.

Situated on Sampson Field between the Performing Arts Center, Westlands, and Rothschild, the amphitheater is a partial reconstruction of a 1930s amphitheater with a storied history in Cos Cob, Connecticut. This exciting project was made possible by the vision and generosity of alumna Josie Merck.

The Amphitheater's History

Built in 1934-1936, the original Greek-style amphitheater was built by architect-sculptor Horton O’Neil in Cos Cob, Connecticut. The space that the O’Neils intended for entertaining family and friends soon became a stage for performances by dancers from the Greenwich Academy, plays by the Cos Cob elementary school, concerts by the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, and even a performance by a young Jane Fonda.

When the O’Neil estate was sold after the death of Horton O’Neil’s widow, the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation worked to look for a new home for the valuable artifact. Sarah Lawrence alumna Josie Merck heard of the search and immediately thought of her alma mater. Coincidentally, five members of the O'Neil family attended Sarah Lawrence, including Horton O’Neil’s sister and daughter, which makes Merck’s donation nothing short of perfect.

"This reclamation of the O'Neil amphitheater is adaptive reuse at its finest: preserving the past in a way that moves it into the future." –President Cristle Collins Judd

The Amphitheater's Future

Prior to construction beginning in June 2018, the marble that makes up the amphitheater was carefully dismantled, cleaned, and each stone inventoried. When completed in late 2018, the 200 seat amphitheater will serve as a venue for outdoor theater, literary, and music performances, a gathering space for the Sarah Lawrence community, and a spot where the College can interact with residents of neighboring communities.