Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tarleton Thursdays: Did You Know?

Tarleton's Old Auditorium

Yesterday Veteran's Day was celebrated on campus. One event, a musical tribute to the men and women of service, was presented by the Tarleton Faculty Brass Quintet in the Hunewell Bandstand.

Another event occurred 80 years ago on the same spot as yesterday's concert! On Armistice Day (now called Veteran's Day), November 11, 1929, Tarleton's new Auditorium was dedicated!

In 1928 Dean J. Thomas Davis obtained $125,000 from the state to build the new Auditorium. Before construction could begin however, John Tarleton's remains had to be reinterred in the current location at the southeast corner of Washington and Lillian! (Guthrie, p.59-60)

The new Tarleton conservatory's ground floor contained an auditorium that would seat 1600, a large concert stage, dressing rooms, and a projection booth for showing motion pictures. (King, p.153-154) "It immediately became the most notable architectural landmark on campus and a center of social and cultural life for the next fifty years!" (Guthrie, p. 60)

The music department (and later the speech and theater departments) had offices, studios, practice rooms, and classrooms in the lower level. Graduation was also held in the Auditorium for many years! (Guthrie, p. 60) In fact, I had classes in and graduated in the old Main Auditorium!

However, the Auditorium was increasingly plagued with flooding and other safety issues and was finally closed in 1980 when the new Clyde Wells Fine Arts Center opened. The building was demolished in 1982. All that remains of the Auditorium today are the concrete stairs at the corner of McIlhaney and Military Drive, which once led up to the front of the building. (Guthrie, p.60) They now lead up to the Hunewell Bandstand!

Guthrie, Christopher E., John Tarleton and his Legacy, p.59-60.
King, C. Richard, Golden Days of Purple & White, p.153-154.

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