Bell House
Home of the Center

Extraordinary string students deserve an extraordinary college experience. The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings has assembled an unparalleled faculty of international performing artists to teach talented students in pursuit of musical excellence.

Founded as a special institute within Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music, the McDuffie Center for Strings’ enrollment is limited to 26 students: twelve violinists, six violists, six cellists and two double bassists. Students accepted to the Center receive a full-tuition University scholarship.

The distinguished artists of the McDuffie Center perform, collaborate and record with the finest orchestras, string ensembles and conductors around the world. They are at the top of their fields. And, each McDuffie Center student interacts with these distinguished artists on a regular basis, which enhances the students’ private lessons, master classes, chamber music coaching sessions and orchestral sectionals, all a part of their required curriculum.

Combining this intensive, conservatory experience with the practicality of a specific business-oriented curriculum, the McDuffie Center for Strings prepares the entrepreneurial musician for success in the real world.

Enrichment opportunities abound within the Center for Strings and the Townsend School of Music. Partnerships with the prestigious Rome Chamber Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Brevard Music Festival, Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival and New World Symphony in Miami provide McDuffie Center students with additional performance and learning possibilities.

The McDuffie Center for Strings’ distinguished artists, faculty and staff are dedicated to the development of student artists pursuing personal and musical excellence.

Read testimonials from recent graduates!
Drew Alexander Forde, Center '14, just completed his Master's at The Juilliard School
Emily Brandenburg, Center '13, currently pursuing a second Master's at Yale University
Jessica Pickersgill, Center '14, just completed her Master's at New England Conservatory

The Bell House

The Bell House is an important historic landmark located at 315 College Street. Its storied history began with Nathan Beall, who built the home in the Victorian style in 1855. In 1900, under the ownership of retired Confederate Capt. Samuel S. Dunlap, 18 massive Corinthian-style columns were added. The house was individually listed on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The house was operated for about 20 years as Beall’s 1860 restaurant until it closed in the 1990s. In 2001, Mercer Trustee Gus Bell purchased the home and meticulously renovated the interior of the house to serve as business offices. The Bell family donated the house to the University in April 2008 in memory of Bell’s wife, Amanda Hancock Morris Bell. In November 2012, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation announced a $1.5 million grant to the University to fund renovation efforts to create the new home of the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings. The newly renovated space is perfectly suited to accommodate the Center’s enrollment limit of 26 students, with dedicated practice rooms and teaching spaces on the second floor, and a 60-seat performance hall on the first floor.

Center Founder Robert McDuffie calls the Bell House “a magical and historical venue. It will be an inspirational home for the talented students of the Center as they continue their journey to becoming complete artists. The combination of classical music and the beauty of the Bell House will be a wonderful addition to Macon’s historic district.”




Robert McDuffie Center for Strings