Trinity University's Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center began to take shape in the mid-1950s and early 1960s thanks to a generous series of gifts from Trustee Vernon F. Taylor. The first building was a music center in 1955, followed by an art building in 1961 and finally the theater in 1964. All three facilities were named for his wife, Ruth. Constructed in the then new lift-slab method of construction, the Ruth Taylor buildings were part of the original campus envisioned by President James W. Laurie and designed by noted Southwest architect O'Neill Ford. Although the facilities provided a campus home for hundreds of young musicians, artists, and actors, after nearly half a century time had taken its toll and the need for expanded and updated facilities became glaringly apparent.
A gift from Trinity Trustee and Mrs. Arthur Stieren in 1998 funded extensive renovation of the Ruth Taylor Theater building, which included the addition of the Jane and Arthur Stieren Theater. In 2002 Trustees voted to undertake an approximately $20 million makeover of the Ruth Taylor music and art /art history buildings. San Antonio-based Kell Munoz Architects designed the new facility, utilizing the original lift-slab technique to help minimize costs. To keep the look and feel of the campus, they specified traditional Trinity red brick but added dramatic aluminum composite panels and gave the building a three-story structure creating a transition between the older low-slung campus buildings and the much larger, recently completed administration building, Northrup Hall.
Today, Trinity University proudly dedicates the Dicke Art Building, Smith Music Building, and Ruth Taylor Recital Hall, bringing to completion the total renovation of the Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center.