there have been a more multi-purpose building?
Back in the early 1900s, it was America's biggest auditorium after
Madison Square Garden in New York. And it hosted the OPERA, CONCERTS,
PLAYS, CONVENTIONS, and yes, the CIRCUS and the RODEO!
was known as Denver's Municipal Auditorium when it opened in
1908 to host the Democratic National Convention.
And for more than 75 years,
it was Denver's de facto opera house, until the 1980s
when other halls opened in the adjoining area that together
became the Denver Performing Arts Complex.
But it was more than that. The neoclassical, multi-purpose structure
also accomodated concerts, theatrical and sports events, conventions,
trade shows, high school graduations, boy scout jamborees, and
yes, even circuses! Also, it became the anchor for Denver's
then glittering theater district, with Curtis Street - east
of and perpendicular to the Auditorium, lit with neon lights
for miles - becoming what Thomas Edison once called the brightest
street in America. Today it is the only theater that remains
from that era.
The auditorium had a movable PROSCENIUM, the arch that separates
the stage from the rest of the hall. When it was in place, the
auditorium was a 3,326-seat theater with a huge back stage area.
When it was raised, the seating capacity increased to over 12,000
and the stage and backstage area became large enough for the
circus and the rodeo.
By the 1940s, feeling
the city had outgrown the auditorium, some people wanted to
tear the the building and build a new one. Instead in 1955,
the city under Mayor Quigg Newton closed it for renovation into
a plush, modern and more intimate theater. Completed in September
1956, it had a seating capacity of 2,240. Receiving another
makeover in the early 1990s the hall was reincarnated as a multipurpose
2,834-seat venue for theater, basketball and wrestling. In 1992,
the facade of the auditorium was renovated, the seating capacity
reduced to 2,065. In the same year, the Auditorium was placed
on the NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES and the DENVER LANDMARKS
LIST. In 2002 it was renamed the Quigg Newton Denver Municipal
Auditorium, after Denver's beloved former mayor.
In 2005 following a 2-year renovation of its interior, the auditorium
became once again the home of Denver's opera house , the ELLIE
CAULKINS OPERA HOUSE - modern, state-of-the-art, elegant and
designed to stand the test of time.
Auditorium hosted such famous personages and performing
arts groups as:
Folklorico de Mexico
San Francisco Opera
Sesame Street Live
Photos courtesy of Opera Colorado and KKN Enterprises