A History of the Cultural Facilities of Wingate University

Stegall Administration Building           
Founded in 1896, Wingate University is located 20 miles southeast of Charlotte, N.C. — nestled midway between the North Carolina mountains and coast. With a student body of approximately 2,500, the Wingate campus is a safe, close-knit and supportive community. Its graceful architecture, manicured grounds and comfortable proximity are reminiscent of a small town. Once you pass through the impressive front gates, you will find Wingate's spacious 400-acre campus including woods, lakes, rolling lawns, stately buildings and first-class athletic and academic facilities.

In keeping with the belief that diversity of experience is essential to a well-rounded education, Wingate University is home to a variety of cultural facilities which are managed by The Batte Center.  Serving over 100,000 people annually, these inviting spaces host 500+ events each year ranging from concerts to art openings to plays and speakers for Wingate and the surrounding community.

Hosting a broad array of events since its completion in 1960, the 999-seat Austin Memorial Chapel Auditorium is named for the late Mr. and Mrs. John M. Austin of Wadesboro. The auditorium was remodeled in 1980 to accommodate a custom-built, 30-stop Holtkamp organ given by the late Thelma Rivers, an alumna of the Wingate School, in honor of the Rivers family: Miss Alma Rivers, L.D. Rivers, and Theodore Rivers.

In 1999, Wingate unveiled the $8.5 million George A. Batte, Jr. Fine Arts Center.  Located across the street from Austin and nestled amongst lush landscaping, this 44,000 square-foot home for the visual and performing arts includes two professional performance spaces, the C. Douglas Helms Art Gallery, a growing Music Department and the cultural arts offices.  The light-filled Rotunda Lobby features a Carolina sky mural, custom carpet medallion and art displays that make the Batte an inviting place for the community to gather.

The main performance hall of the Batte Center is the 554-seat Hannah Covington McGee Theatre which honors past Wingate University President Jerry E. McGee’s late wife, a life-long patron of the arts.  Boasting unobstructed views and full-sized proscenium stage house, the McGee Theatre is the perfect setting for concerts, plays and dance events.  The 174-seat Plyler-Griffin Recital Hall provides an intimate and acoustically sensitive space for student and faculty presentations. It is named for Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Plyler, former North Carolina senator, and Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Griffin of Monroe.  

  Batte Center Rotunda McGee Theatre  Austin Auditorium  Recital Hall
Batte Rotunda Lobby                                           Hannah Covington McGee Theatre                      Austin Auditorium                         Plyler-Griffen Recital Hall

The Center honors George A. Batte, Jr. who, during his college summers at Davidson College, worked in the Cannon Textile Mills.  Unable to attend medical school as planned due to the Great Depression’s economic hardship after his graduation from Davidson in 1927, he returned to the mill and he became administrative assistant to mill owner Charles A. Cannon in 1936.  Batte worked us way up through the ranks to top management of Cannon Mills and The Cannon Foundation, the Charles A. Cannon Charitable Trusts of Concord and Wiscasset Mills Company of Albemarle. With a career of 55 years, his college major in chemistry and his humanitarian and corporate skills bore fruit.

Batte’s exemplary public service extended from the formation of the first public hospital in Cabarrus County in 1936 to the George A. Batte Jr. Cancer Center in 1997, which honored his major efforts toward development of the NorthEast Medical Center. “He wanted to make sure people had a good place to go to a hospital, so he built them one,” said a colleague at Cannon Mills.

Wingate University was a major beneficiary of Batte’s leadership, generosity, and his association with Charles A. Cannon. Batte’s contributions to Wingate and to the region and his vision are honored by the splendid Fine Arts Center.  Friends described him as “a humble and conservative businessman who was as prone to telling jokes as he was to solving problems.” His place on the Wingate campus is a celebration of his life and gifts to Cabarrus and Union Counties.

Artists presented by the Batte CenterHelms Art Gallery
Ailey II
Anthony Dean Griffey
Arcata String Quartet
Baltimore Consort
Blind Boys of Alabama
Boston Brass
Bruce Wood Dance Company
Canadian Brass
Cashore Marionettes
Chairmen of the Board
Chatham Baroque
Chicago City Limits
Christine Lavin
Daria Rabotkina
David Holt
David Wilcox
Del McCrory BandWU Opera
Eliot Fisk
Emile Pandolfi
Ensemble Galilei
Ethos Percussion Group
Garison Keillor
Habana Sax
Hot Club of San Fransisco
Hubbard Sreet Dance
Infamous Stringdusters
Janis Ian
Jim Brickman
Kathy Mattea
Kevin Spencer Illusions
LA Theatre Works
Leon Bates
Loonis McGlohon Trio
Mark O'Connor
Mickey Rooney
Moscow Boy Choir
NC Dance TheatreBatte Center Rotunda
NC Symphony
NC Youth Tap Ensemble
Orquesta GarDel
Preservation Hall Jazz
Rani Arbo&Daisy Mayhem
Sam Bush
St. Lawrence String Qt
St. Louis Brass
Susan Graham
The Ahn Trio
Tim O'Brien
Turtle Island String Quartet
Waverly Consort
Zephyros Wind Quintet