Freethought Hall to be ‘born again’

To kick off the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s 35th anniversary as a national group (formed in April 1978), FFRF has announced an ambitious building expansion. The city of Madison, Wis., gave final approval to the building plans April 8, and FFRF purchased the adjacent property for its expansion April 16. Groundbreaking is set for early fall on a four-story addition to be completed by late spring 2014. 

A third-story library topped by a cupola, to be completed by summer 2014, will also be added to the existing building. A spiral staircase will lead visitors from the library to the cupola, providing a unique view of the Capitol and space for five or six people to meet or lunch in.

FFRF’s modest two-story building, built in 1855 and purchased in 1990, is named Freethought Hall in honor of Wisconsin’s proud secular tradition. Freethought Hall will get a face lift and be “born again” into an impressive multilevel office building. The project will more than quadruple office space (and, “hallejulah,” more than triple the restrooms). There will be plenty of space to add much-needed new staffers.

The addition’s fourth story will be a true hall — a full-story auditorium with a stage, high ceiling, catering kitchenette and audio-visual accoutrements. The third story will include a studio for radio and TV, and the entire second story will become a dedicated legal wing.

A two-story lobby with security features will lead to additional administrative offices in the addition’s first floor. A portrait of principal founder President Emerita Anne Gaylor, 86, will hang in the lobby. A lobby wall will be etched with the names of the largest donors. Those giving $5,000 or more will be recognized on lobby plaques. 

Some “naming rights” are already claimed by thoughtful and generous donors. The auditorium will be named for a very kind donor from Florida (who wants to remain anonymous at this point). The spacious library will be named for Joel Landon and Wanda Beers, who generously gave $100,000.

Stephen and Diane Uhl have contributed an awe-inspring $250,000. The studio will be named the “Stephen Uhl Out of God’s Closet Studio,” the second story will become the Diane Uhl Legal Wing, and Diane’s name will be inscribed on the grand piano “of Dan’s choice” for the new auditorium.

The courtyard/garden patio, cupola and first and third-floor wings are still available for “naming rights” as of publication.

FFRF, being frugal, has put aside savings for this much-anticipated expansion, with a goal of raising $1.5 million. Freethought Today will carry a running tally of donors and donations (see next page for donations received by April 30). Donors’ names will be published only with express permission.

Personalized handcrafted tiles with room for name only (or name “in memoriam”) in the vestibule are available for $2,500. Paving stones for the patio may be additionally acquired. A 6×12-inch paving stone is $1,000. A 12×12-inch stone is $2,000 (while space lasts). All donations will be recorded in a keepsake book.

FFRF receives Charity Navigator’s highest 4-star rating. Donations to FFRF are deductible for income-tax purposes to the fullest extent of the law. Congress has extended the IRA charitable rollover through 2013 for seniors age 70½, allowing them to transfer as much as $100,000 per year from a traditional IRA directly to FFRF. 

Thank you to all who are investing in FFRF’s future and growth! fund

Freedom From Religion Foundation