Timeline of Music Hall's History

KEY DATES IN MUSIC HALL'S HISTORY:

1867:

The Saengerbund Singing Society constructs Saengerhalle at 14th & Elm, the future site of Music Hall.

1870:

The City of Cincinnati acquires Saengerhalle as a site for the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition.

1873:

Maria Longworth Nichols and her husband George Ward Nichols organize the first May Musical Festival. Acclaimed conductor Theodore Thomas conducted the performances in Exposition Hall.

1875:

Businessman and community leader Reuben R. Springer offers a matching gift of $125,000 to build new Music Hall (to be matched by $125,000 from other citizens with $50,000 offered later for addition of wings, to be matched two-to-one).

1876:

Civic leaders Julius Dexter, W. H. Harrison, T. D. Lincoln, Joseph Longworth, Robert Mitchell, John Shillito and Reuben Springerorganize the Music Hall Association to build new the new hall.

Acclaimed Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford gets the contract to design Music Hall.

Exposition Hall (old Saengerhalle) is demolished to clear the site for new Music Hall.

As cost estimates increase for the construction, Reuben Springeradds a donation of $20,000 to the project.

1877:

Construction begins on new Cincinnati Music Hall on May 1.

1878:

The ''magnificent'' Music Hall opens the night of Tuesday, May 14th, with the May Festival chorus and with an orchestra of musicians of the New York Philharmonic and conducted by the renowned Theodore Thomas.

The College of Music opens on October 14 and is housed in Dexter Hall, the top floor of Music Hall. Theodore Thomas shocks New York society by leaving that city to become the College's first Musical Director.

1879:

Machinery Hall (North Wing) and Art Hall (South Wing) are added to complex, bringing total cost of the entire project to $446,000.

1883:

Electric lighting is introduced at Industrial Exposition in Music Hall.

1895:

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is founded.

1896:

Renovation is completed for $100,000 to extend the stage into the audience area, add a proscenium arch, double the pitch of the floor, add permanent seating for 3,330 people, along with electric lighting and steam heat. The remodeled Music Hall was opened to the public on May 14 and was now ready for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The remodeling also made it possible to more easily accommodate opera and theatrical productions. In May, at the annual meeting of the Music Hall Association, it was decided that the auditorium would be known as Springer Hall.

1905:

The circular painting ''Allegory of the Arts,'' by Arthur Conrad Thomas, is installed in the center of the ceiling in Springer Auditorium.

1912:

New seating is installed in Springer Auditorium of Music Hall.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's board moves CSO performances to the recently-completed Emery Auditorium at the behest of Music Director Leopold Stokowski.

1926:

General plans for remodeling Music Hall are drawn up. $600,000 worth of improvements include transforming the north wing into a sports arena that could be converted into an exposition hall, and renovation of the south wing to contain an exposition hall and a hall for dances, dinners and conventions.

1927:

On May 26, the City of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Music Hall Association enter into an agreement whereby, for the sum of one dollar ($1.00), CMHA will own and, within three years, remodel Cincinnati Music Hall.

North and South Wings are expanded, including a new (Topper Club) Ballroom.

On October 11, the College of Music unveils a new three-story office and studio building and achieves the largest student enrollment in its history to date.

1929:

Topper Club (later called Music Hall Ballroom) opens in South Wing, with Egyptian decor complete with Sphinx.

1935:

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra returns to Music Hall.

1937:  

Music Hall is almost razed as a fire hazard, but is saved by general remodeling and upgrading to meet standards.

Music Hall serves as a clothing depot for the Red Cross and as a central warehouse for food supplies, to aid families affected by the 1937 flood.

1941:

The City of Cincinnati acquires title and responsibility for Music Hall.

1949:

A face lift begins for Music Hall.

1954:

Music Hall foyer is redecorated for first time since construction in 1878.

WCET, the nation's first licensed educational TV station, debuts from Dexter Hall (third floor of Music Hall).

1957:

Springer Auditorium receives general refurbishing in red, grey, off-white and gold.

1964:

Corbett Foundation, led by J. Ralph Corbett and Patricia Corbett, donates rebuilding of backstage area, leading off series of major improvements in Music Hall financed by Corbett donations in next 30 years.

1969:

Corbett Foundation finances further major renovations, including addition of offices for performing arts organizations, dressing rooms, Music Library, Green Room, seating, escalators, full-building air-conditioning, and Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers.

1970:

Music Hall is added to National Register of Historic Places.

Exterior of building is sandblasted (with 400 tons of sand over 60 days).

1972:

Corbett Foundation finances further major renovations, including new scenery shop and set storage area for opera and ballet, and new Corbett Tower on third floor (replacing Dexter Hall).

The Cincinnati Summer Opera moves from the Zoo to Music Hall.

1974:

New seating is installed in Main Auditorium as gift of Corbett Foundation.

1992:

Music Hall Association merges to form Cincinnati Arts Association for joint management of Music Hall and the new Aronoff Center for the Arts.

The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall is formally established as a volunteer support organization to help preserve and enhance the Hall.

The Corbett Foundation replaces seating in Springer (Main) Auditorium of Music Hall.

1994:

The Corbett Foundation finances refurbishing of Corbett Tower.

1998:

The Music Hall Ballroom enjoys major transformation into an elegant state-of-the-art, multi-purpose ballroom and meeting facility.

2004:

In October, the Cincinnati Opera moves into new headquarters, the Corbett Opera Center, located in Music Hall’s north side.

2010:

The Music Hall Revitalization Company is formed to oversee needed structural improvements to Music Hall.

2012:

In December, the City of Cincinnati and the Music Hall Revitalization Company reach an agreement on a lease of the building, paving the way for a major renovation.

2013:

The Music Hall Revitalization Company engages 3CDC to manage the renovation project.

2015:

A design team comprised of architectural firms PWWG andMartinez + Johnson, acoustical firm Akustiks and theater consultants Schuler Shook is selected in collaboration with Music Hall’s resident arts organizations.

Extensive acoustic testing is conducted by the renowned acoustical firm, Akustiks, in collaboration with CSO musicians and with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on stage in June.

Construction begins in backstage areas that summer.

2016:

The design concept is revealed publicly in February.

Learn more from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's website: http://www.cincinnatisymphony.org/stories/music-hall-renovations/