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Louisville Memorial Auditorium

For 80 years, Louisville Memorial Auditorium has helped to entertain Louisvillians. It also houses some hidden historical gems, which is why it takes center stage in this Et Cetera.

The creation of Louisville Memorial Auditorium (located at 970 S. Fourth St. at the corner of Fourth and Kentucky Streets) fulfilled two needs: the need for a public auditorium and the desire for a memorial to honor those from Louisville and Jefferson County who served in World War I.

The Auditorium was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1929, and opened on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1929.

From its beginning, Louisville Memorial Auditorium - a historic landmark - was a hub of cultural life.

Throughout the years, the 85-foot-wide stage has hosted an impressive list of famous performers, including composer George Gershwin, actress Helen Hayes, singer Marian Anderson and dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Even today, more than 100,000 patrons attend a variety of events annually at Louisville Memorial Auditorium.

In addition, the site is home of an enormous, rare Pilcher pipe organ, which consists of more than 5200 pipes, some of which are installed in all four corners of the concert hall. It is the largest instrument built by the Henry Pilcher's Sons organ company, which was based in Louisville. The organ still functions today with all of its original equipment. Surprisingly, it was not damaged in the 1937 flood.

Another unique aspect of the venue is its collection of 144 world-famous flags, featuring flags that flew in World War I and World War II. These include personal banners and flags of famous American Generals like Eisenhower and Patton.

Etc.:

  • The original name of the facility was the Louisville War Memorial Auditorium. According to "The Encyclopedia of Louisville", the Greek Revival building was designed by internationally known Thomas Hastings of New York. He was assisted by Louisville’s Thomas Hutchings, who served as chief architect.
  • The Louisville Memorial Commission has directed operations of the auditorium from the very beginning, starting with its construction.
  • According to the Louisville Historical League, 30th President Herbert Hoover spoke at Memorial Auditorium on November 22, 1929.
  • Louisville Memorial Auditorium was the original home of the WHAS Crusade for Children telethon.
  • According to Louisville Memorial Auditorium organist Tim Baker, Judge Robert Worth Bingham, an avid patron of the arts, was instrumental in getting the Pilcher pipe organ installed in the auditorium. The organ cost about $65,000 to build in 1929.
  • The Courier-Journal reports that the organ took five months to produce and "required eight miles of copper wire, 14 miles of cable, 6,500 pounds of tin, 3,600 pounds of lead and 40,000 feet of lumber." (9/14/2006)
  • Henry Pilcher, Jr. lived in Old Louisville.
  • Today the Pilcher organ at Louisville Memorial Auditorium is mostly used for organ concert recitals and silent movie fundraisers.
  • To learn how you can donate, or to learn more about these events, please contact Louisville Memorial Auditorium or email the non-profit William H. Bauer Foundation at BauerOrganFoundation@yahoo.com.
Program 426
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