Saint Mary's School News

Saint Mary's announces $6 million lead gift for Blanche Robertson Bacon Performing Arts Center

Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh, North Carolina, has received a gift of more than $6 million as part of the Saint Mary’s Forever campaign for the creation of The Blanche Robertson Bacon Performing Arts Center. The gift is being made in honor and memory of alumna Blanche Robertson Bacon, a member of the school’s high school Class of 1953 and the junior college Class of 1955, by members of her family.

Family members supporting this important initiative include Julian H. Robertson, Jr., Mrs. Bacon’s brother; Wyndham Robertson, Mrs. Bacon’s sister; Blanche Spencer Williamson, Mrs. Bacon’s daughter, and a member of the school’s high school Class of 1976 and current member of the school’s Alumnae Leadership Council; Julian and Beth Williamson and family, Mrs. Bacon’s son (a member of the school’s Board of Trustees) and daughter-in-law (also past and current parents); and Caroline Williamson and family, Mrs. Bacon’s daughter-in-law. At the family’s request, the facility will be known as the Blanche Center.

The Blanche Center will bolster Saint Mary’s commitment to interdisciplinary interaction as well as excellence in personal artistic exploration and participation. This multifunctional center will be comprised of the Eliza Battle Pittman Auditorium, a Raleigh Historic Property built in 1907, along with a new state-of-the-art adjoining facility. The center will encompass the school’s largest indoor gathering space as well as house a Black Box Theatre, atrium and event lobby with concession area and art gallery, offices for faculty, dressing rooms, restrooms, storage for costumes and sets, and expanded side and backstage areas. Additionally, the center will enhance the educational experience of all Saint Mary’s students, as it will provide spaces where girls gain confidence and find inspiration from performances, convocations, awards and sports ceremonies, weekly all-school assemblies, speakers, and more. The center will also catapult the arts scene in the Raleigh community by welcoming and connecting renowned artists, performers, and speakers to the school’s historic downtown campus. Construction is expected to begin in January 2023.

The late Blanche Robertson Bacon was a Saint Mary’s alumna with a lifetime legacy of distinguished leadership, service, and philanthropy at the school and in the Raleigh community. She served for many years on the school’s Board of Trustees, including as vice chair. She was the recipient of Saint Mary’s Outstanding Alumna Award and the John Bratton, Jr. Volunteer Service Award for her decades-long, instrumental guidance.

“The renovation and expansion of the performing arts center at Saint Mary’s School is so meaningful and impactful,” say Forever Campaign Chairs Frank and Ruth E. Perry Holding of Raleigh. “This is a central part of campus life where so many gatherings and events are held for the school. It will be enjoyed for generations to come. We thank the family of Blanche Robertson Bacon for their amazing gift for the performing arts center at Saint Mary’s.”

Under the leadership of Frank B. Holding, Jr. and Ruth E. Perry Holding ’81C, William and Aurelia Monk, Nancy Kerr Thomason ’73HS ’75C, and Anna Zevenhuizen ’07, the Saint Mary’s Forever campaign steering committee has created a campaign strategy to ensure the realization of Saint Mary’s campus master plan and the sustainability of school’s mission and vision for future generations. The campaign, which has raised more than $51 million to date, is focused on three pillars – financial sustainability, growing the endowment, and academic integration and innovation.

“I extend a heartfelt thank you to the family of Blanche Robertson Bacon for making our performing arts center possible,” says Head of School Carol Killebrew. “This arts center will have a powerful impact for our students, our school, and the Raleigh community.”

Watch our video here.

To learn more about the Saint Mary’s Forever campaign, click here.

For questions regarding the Saint Mary’s Forever campaign, contact Julie Ricciardi, CFRE, associate head for institutional advancement, at or 919-424-4114.

About Saint Mary’s School: Saint Mary’s School in Raleigh, North Carolina, is an independent, Episcopal, college-preparatory, boarding and day school dedicated to academic excellence and personal achievement for girls in grades 9-12. Founded in 1842, the historic, residential 23-acre campus is located in the heart of North Carolina’s capital city of Raleigh. With a mission to prepare girls for college and life, Saint Mary’s immerses girls in a dynamic learning environment offering both hands-on classroom learning and opportunities for real-world experiences. Graduates leave Saint Mary’s prepared to flourish in college, continue a path of servant leadership, take on future challenges, and lead with purpose. Saint Mary’s School inspires girls to step outside their comfort zones, engage their minds, amplify their voices, and discover who they are and who they want to become. For more information, visit