Old Main Auditorium


Here is a view of Old Main Auditorium in 1908, looking down from
the balcony to the stage and first floor below.


HUNTINGTON -- People tend to think of Marshall University's Old Main as one building.
But actually it's a series of structures that were erected over the decades and then joined together.
The first was built in 1837. The final section - which gave the structure
its iconic exterior appearance - was added in 1907.

The 1907 addition included an auditorium that was used for an incredible 85 years.
 The auditorium was 60 by 84 feet in size, with a stage that was 18 feet deep and extended
 the auditorium's full 60-foot width. The floor was inclined and originally seated 600
 folding beech opera chairs. A second floor balcony contained 400 oak chairs.

In its earliest years, the auditorium's seats were individually assigned to students,
with male students obliged to sit on one side of the aisle and female students on the other.

Over the decades, the venerable Old Main auditorium was the scene of literally hundreds of student
productions. The auditorium's first student shows were staged by the Harlequin Club in the 1920s.
A final student production, "Hay Fever," rang down the curtain for the old auditorium in 1992.

In addition to student productions, Old Main auditorium featured performances by some of the greatest names
 in entertainment who visited the campus to perform - Basil Rathbone, Claude Raines,
Agnes Moorehead and John Fontaine, to name just a few.

Marshall's Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center opened in 1992, with a modern 530-seat theater
auditorium, an experimental theater and rehearsal rooms. At that point, Old Main auditorium was
deemed no longer needed and so was dismantled.

Dr. K. Edward Gross, MU's vice president for administration, told The Herald-Dispatch the
old theater had long since outlived its usefulness. "If it was OK and satisfactory,
then we would never have built a replacement," he said.


Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on Apr. 11 , 2016


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