Public Auditorium

Public Auditorium
Public Hall · Music Hall

West façade facing the Cleveland Mall
Location 500 Lakeside Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
Coordinates 41°30′15″N 81°41′38″W / 41.504061°N 81.694017°W / 41.504061; -81.694017Coordinates: 41°30′15″N 81°41′38″W / 41.504061°N 81.694017°W / 41.504061; -81.694017
Owner City of Cleveland
Type Multi-purpose facility
Houses two separate venues
Capacity 10,000 (main auditorium)
3,000 (Music Hall)
Opened 1922
Official website

Public Auditorium (also known as Public Hall) is a multi-purpose performing arts, entertainment, sports, and exposition facility located in the civic center district of downtown Cleveland, Ohio. The 10,000-capacity main auditorium shares its stage with a second venue housed at the facility: the 3,000-capacity Music Hall.[1][2] 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, then seating 11,500.[3]

Construction and expansion

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 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.[4][5]

The seating capacity of the main auditorium, including the main floor and the U-shaped balcony, is more than 10,000. Music Hall seats 3,000, the ballroom 1,500, the north exhibition hall 1,500, the Little Theater 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 2008, all seats were replaced in the balcony.[6]

In 2010, the city sold the underground convention center to Cuyahoga County, which repurposed it to construct the new $465 million Cleveland Convention Center, connected to the Global Center for Health Innovation. The work included a $3.9 million renovation and restoration of Public Auditorium.[6]


2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony held at Public Hall

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.[3] In 1946, jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt made his American debut at Music Hall, accompanied by pianist Duke Ellington.[7] Both Music Hall and Public Hall - the main auditorium 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,[8] Anthrax,[9] Exodus[10] and the Beastie Boys.[11] It also was the home for the Metropolitan Opera Spring Tour performances between 1924 and 1983. Its use as a concert venue declined sharply after the completion of the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University in 1991.

The annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies have been held in Public Auditorium several times. In April 2009, it hosted the 24th induction ceremonies, the first open to the public.[12] On April 14, 2012, the facility hosted the Hall of Fame's 27th induction ceremonies.[13] On April 18, 2015, the facility will host the 30th anniversary induction ceremonies.[14]

From 1981 to 1989, Public Auditorium was occasionally used as a home court for the Cleveland State Vikings men's basketball team. Public Hall hosted the Mid-American Conference Women's Basketball Tournament in 2000, the tournament's first year in Cleveland.[15] In February 2014, Public Auditorium hosted a Fed Cup series between the USA and Italy; temporary hard court surfaces were installed for the event.[16]


  1. "Public Auditorium and Conference Center". City of Cleveland. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  2. "The Cleveland Group Plan of 1903: Public Auditorium/Public Hall". Michael Schwartz Library - Cleveland State University. 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2015. The Public Auditorium shares a stage with the Music Hall.
  3. 1 2 "Public Auditorium". The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. May 13, 1998. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
  4. "The Cleveland Public Auditorium & its Organ". The American Municipal Pipe Organ Website. 2009. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  5. Robinson, Racquel (May 10, 2009). "Preserve historic pipe organ housed in Public Auditorium". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  6. 1 2 Ott, Thomas (August 20, 2011). "Cleveland's Public Auditorium set for renovation, marketing". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved April 24, 2012.
  7. "Django Reinhardt at the Music Hall". Cleveland Historical. Retrieved July 21, 2014.
  8. "Cleveland's Public Auditorium Prepping for a Comeback". The Plain Dealer. August 28, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
  12. Sisario, Ben (April 4, 2009). "A Raucous Homecoming for Rock's Hall of Fame". The New York Times. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  13. Sisario, Ben (April 15, 2012). "Anointing Rock Legends From the Coasts". The New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
  14. Greene, Andy (December 16, 2014). "Green Day, Lou Reed, Joan Jett, Ringo Starr Lead Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015 Class". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  15. "A Snapshot of MAC Women's Basketball In Cleveland". Mid-American Conference. March 9, 2004. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  16. Valade, Jodie (February 9, 2014). "Young United States team falls to Italy 3-1 in Fed Cup". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved February 9, 2014.

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