|Music Hall · Public Hall|
West façade facing the Cleveland Mall
|Location||500 Lakeside Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
|Owner||City of Cleveland|
Houses two separate venues
|Capacity||2,800 (Music Hall)
10,000 (Public Hall)
Public Auditorium is a multi-purpose performing arts, entertainment, and exposition facility located in the central business district of downtown Cleveland, Ohio. The structure actually houses two separate venues – the 2,800-capacity Music Hall and the 10,000-capacity Public Hall. Although Public Auditorium was planned and funded prior to World War I, construction did not begin until 1920, and the building did not open until 1922. Designed by city architect J. Harold McDowell and Frank Walker of Walker and Weeks in a neoclassical style matching the other Group Plan buildings, it was the largest of its kind when opened, seating 11,500.
The auditorium cornerstone was laid October 20, 1920, and the completed building was dedicated April 15, 1922. Smith & Oby was one local company involved in the project, at the time the largest convention hall in the United States. In 1927, the Music Hall was added at the south end of the auditorium. The main arena floor is 300 ft × 215 ft (91 m × 66 m) and 80 ft (24 m) high. No columns were used in its construction. The main stage is 140 ft × 60 ft (43 m × 18 m) with a 72 ft × 42 ft (22 m × 13 m) proscenium arch. The stage is set between the main hall and the music hall and is shared by both halls using a curtain system. A key attraction was a spectacular pipe organ, Opus 328, the largest ever built at one time by E.M. Skinner with 10,010 pipes and 150 direct speaking stops.
The seating capacity of the main auditorium, including the main floor and the U-shaped balcony, was more than 11,500. The Music Hall seated 2,800, the ballroom 1,500, the north exhibition hall 1,500, the Little Theatre 600 and other halls from six to 500. The basement Exhibition Hall provided more than 28,500 sq ft (2,650 m2) of exhibit space.
In 1964, the city constructed a new underground convention center, which opened on August 28 of that year. The Convention Center provided 26 meeting rooms, each holding from 50 to 10,000 people, and 424,230 sq ft (39,412 m2) of exhibit space. Visitors accessed both convention center and auditorium through modern glass and metal entrance and lobby area added to the Mall side of the Beaux Arts exterior. Architects for the project were Outcalt, Guenther, Rode and Bonebrake and the cost was $17.5 million, including $1 million for improvements to the Mall Plaza.
In 2010, the city sold the underground convention center to Cuyahoga County which demolished it to construct a new $465 million facility, work will include a $3.9 million renovation and restoration of Public Auditorium.
Public Auditorium has hosted many notable events, including the 1924 and 1936 Republican National Conventions, General Eisenhower's address on September 23, 1952 to 15,000 supporters immediately after Richard Nixon's successful Fund Speech, and the 1993 Cleveland Orchestra 75th anniversary concert. In 1946, jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt made his American debut at Music Hall, accompanied by pianist Duke Ellington. Both Music Hall and Public Hall have served as venues for many rock and roll acts, including such legendary performers as Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Rolling Stones.
From 1981 to 1989, Public Auditorium was occasionally used as a home court for the Cleveland State Vikings men's basketball team. Its use as a concert venue declined sharply after the completion of the CSU Convocation Center (now Wolstein Center) at Cleveland State University in 1991. Public Hall hosted the Mid-American Conference Women's Basketball Tournament in 2000, the tournament's first year in Cleveland. In 2008 all seats were replaced in the balcony and in April 2009, it hosted the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. On April 14, 2012, the facility hosted the hall of fame's 27th induction ceremonies. In February 2014, Public Auditorium hosted a Fed Cup series between the USA and Italy; temporary hard court surfaces were installed for the event.
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