Arts center in Connecticut to honor Katharine Hepburn

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OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. (AP) – Katharine Hepburn never sought a memorial while alive, but now, nearly three years after her death, the actress’ name will adorn a new arts center in her beloved hometown on Long Island Sound.

The only tangible sign of the four-time Oscar winner is a garden at the library. That was plenty for her.

“She was private and the town respected that,” says Roland W. Laine, executive assistant to the Old Saybrook Board of Selectmen.

But it’s not enough to many who have asked her family if her name could be used on a new arts center on Main Street.

“She was part of the town. People respected her,” says Walter Hirsch, chairman of the construction committee. “We need something to remember her. That little park is nice but it doesn’t do her justice.”

The town is refurbishing the more than 90-year-old Town Hall into the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.

Fund raisers hope to net more than $1 million for stage lighting, seats, sound, projection and other equipment.

And an endowment for the theater will be established to fund scholarships and performances.

Cynthia McFadden, a friend of Hepburn’s and executor of her will, is serving as an honorary member of the fundraising campaign. Others who have joined the project include actress Lauren Bacall, CBS newsman Morley Safer and writer Dominick Dunne.

Hepburn, who grew up in Hartford, spent summers at Fenwick, a shoreline community in Old Saybrook. She maintained a home in New York City but spent summers and most of her time later in life in the nine-bedroom family home.

Construction of the arts center is expected to begin in late summer.

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