Auditorium Theater

Auditorium Theater
   "The greatest room for music and opera in the world—bar none" was Frank Lloyd Wright's assessment of Chicago's 4,200-seat theatre. Designed by Louis Sullivan and Dank-mar Adler in 1886, the Auditorium remains one of the most acoustically perfect theatres of the era. Civic pride motivated its planning and construction, led by Ferdinand W. Peck and other wealthy citizens who formed the Chicago Auditorium Association. The cornerstone was laid in October 1887 by President Grover Cleveland, and it was dedicated on 9 December 1889 by President Benjamin Harrison. Over 5,000 people heard Adelina Patti's inaugural performance, for which some boxes were sold at $2,100.
   Located inside a much larger building with a hotel and restaurant (among the first of such size to be electrically lighted and air conditioned), the Auditorium Theatre survived the decades partly because it would have been too expensive to demolish. A move to raze it was thwarted in 1923, but another setback came in 1929 when the Chicago Opera Company found a newer home. The theatre closed in 1941, then reopened as a recreation center for servicemen during World War II, with a bowling alley installed on the stage. Roosevelt College (later Roosevelt University) acquired the building in 1946 and used the hotel floors for classes and offices while the theatre stood empty. In the 1960s, Beatrice T. Spachner spearheaded a drive to restore the Auditorium Theater. It reopened in 1967, yet restoration work continued for two decades.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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