circa 1818 An orphanage is built on the property that will become Music Hall.
1830s The land bordering Elm Street between 12th and 14th streets holds what's called a ''Pest House'' and
1849 The North American Saengerbund is organized in Cincinnati.
1867 The Saengerbund Singing Society constructs Saengerhalle at 14th & Elm--site of future
1870 City of Cincinnati acquires Saengerhalle, renaming it Exposition Hall as site for
Cincinnati Industrial Exposition.
1873 Maria Longworth Nichols and her husband George
Ward Nichols organize the first May
Musical Festival. Theodore Thomas
conducted the performances in Exposition Hall.
1875 The May Musical Festival presents the American premiere of Bach's Magnificat.
Reuben R. Springer
offers 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).
Read the story
, Superintendent of Music for Cincinnati Public Schools, leads city schoolchildren
in raising $3,000 for new Music Hall.
1876 Civic leaders Julius Dexter, W. H. Harrison, T. D. Lincoln, Joseph Longworth, Robert
Mitchell, John Shillito
and Reuben Springer
organize the Music Hall Association to build new the new hall.
Exposition Hall (old Saengerhalle) is demolished to clear the site for new Music Hall.
As cost estimates increase for the construction, Reuben Springer
adds a donation of $20,000 to the project.
1877 Construction begins on new Cincinnati Music Hall on May 1.
offers $10,000 to start Organ Society to build organ for Music Hall;
public subscriptions raise total to $30,000.
1878 The ''magnificent'' Music Hall opens the night of Tuesday, May 14th, with the May Festival
and with an orchestra of musicians of the New York Philharmonic and conducted by the renowned
The College of Music
is 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
the entire project to $446,000.
The Women's Art Museum Association (WAMA) of Cincinnati exhibits decorative work from its classes at the Seventh
Cincinnati Industrial Exposition, and invites men to become members of the Association. WAMA was formed primarily
with the goal of the establishment of a permanent art museum in Cincinnati. In November, WAMA rents Art Rooms in
the Exposition Building/Art Hall and moves into its quarters.
1880 The Democratic National Convention at Music Hall nominates General Winfield Scott Hancock for
Following months of discord, Theodore Thomas resigns as Music Director of the College of Music.
A banquet celebrating the opening of city-owned Cincinnati Southern Railway is held in main auditorium of Music Hall.
The Cincinnati Tennis Club opens on indoor courts in South Wing (until 1882).
First Millers' International Exhibition is held at Music Hall.
1881 Reuben R. Springer purchases property south of Music Hall for the purpose of constructing a permanent
home for the College of Music.
1883 Electric lighting is introduced at Industrial Exposition in Music Hall. Thomas Edison received a medal
at Music Hall for his invention of the incandescent light.
1884 Reuben Springer, philanthropist and benefactor of Music Hall, dies.
In October, The Odeon opens as the new home of the College of Music. This structure houses classrooms, a concert hall,
and a two-manual pipe organ.
Courthouse Riot of 1884 begins with a rally at Music Hall. The riot resulted in the deaths of 20 and the burning of the courthouse.
An Opera Festival is held at Music Hall to benefit survivors of the great flood.
1886 Technical School of Cincinnati, predecessor of U.C. College of Engineering, is founded at
The Cincinnati Art Museum
opens on May 17 in a newly-constructed building in Eden Park. WAMA's trustees dissolved the Association.
1888 Centennial Exposition of the Ohio Valley and Central States
celebrates 100th anniversary of the founding of
Cincinnati (14th Cincinnati Industrial Exposition).
1889 Cincinnati Architectural Club holds a symposium at Music Hall, attracting national
1895 Contracts are awarded for the reconstruction of Music Hall.
The hall is closed in October for extensive
renovation following a standing-room-only concert rehearsal by the May Festival Chorus.
As less than half of the planned
decoration of the great organ
was completed when Music Hall opened,
Benn Pitman and his students worked to complete the remaining panels.
During reconstruction, the Pops popular concerts move to the Walnut Street Theater. At this time,
the Pops orchestra was the Cincinnati Orchestra Company, with Michael Brand as conductor.
1896 Opening night of the Twelfth May Festival marks the formal dedication
of the renovated Music Hall.
The following changes were made:
- a permanent proscenium arch was added
- a smaller, movable proscenium was constructed within the permanent arch
- the stage was extended into the audience area
- the pitch of the floor was doubled
- the wood paneling on the walls was replaced with plaster and painted
- the ceiling was lowered five feet, plastered and painted, and a chandelier
containing one hundred electric lights was hung from the ceiling
- seats were arranged differently, and permanent seating for 3,330 people was added
- electric lighting and steam heat was added
- dressing rooms were remodeled
The remodeled Music Hall is opened to the public on
May 14 and is now ready for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which is moving to the hall from Pike's Opera
House. 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, in the future, the hall would
be known as
Springer Hall. Additionally, the
was moved back against the west wall, and work was done on the
organ's wood-carved panels
Renovation is completed for $140,000: $100,000 originally estimated, but
also $40,000 is donated by prominent citizens.
1900 First Cincinnati Fall Festival and Industrial Exposition (continuing to 1923)
1901 The Great Organ is overhauled by J.M. Rimmer, an organ expert from the
Hook & Hastings Factory in Boston.
1902 President Theodore Roosevelt speaks to a crowd of over 8,000 in Music Hall Auditorium. His visit
could have ended in catastrophe, as sparks from an electrical wire set a curtain on fire in Mechnical (North) Hall. Exposition
attendants put out the fire quickly and very few in the packed auditorium knew about the incident, thus averting a panic.
Composer Richard Strauss conducts the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at Music Hall.
1905 Circular painting ''Allegory of the Arts,'' by
Arthur Conrad Thomas, is installed in center
of main auditorium.
Several people attending a concert screamed, panicked and ran to the exits after
hearing noise from the roller-skating rink in the adjoining Music Hall building. Ushers calmed the stricken individuals,
explained the source, and the patrons returned to their seats.
1910 Ohio Valley Exposition is held in Music Hall, celebrating completion of world's largest
at Fernbank on the Ohio.
President William Howard Taft attends the May Festival and dedicates the statue of Theodore Thomas, which is now located in
the northeast balcony area.
1912 Springer Auditorium is "renovated" with the installation of new seating and new electric lights.
In addition, the boxes received new bronze and green draperies, and new flooring was installed in the side corridors.
Music Hall was rewired to comply with new building code.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's board moves CSO performances to the recently-completed Emery Auditorium,
a more intimate and less expensive venue.
President William Howard Taft attends May Festival, dedicating the statue of Theodore Thomas.
1916 The Ohio Valley Electrical Exposition at Music Hall celebrates the electrical age.
1918 U.S. and Allied Governments' War Exposition is held at Music Hall.
1922 Due to the dangerous condition of the roofs of the wings,
the city's building commissioner orders the
north and south wings closed to the public until extensive repairs can be made
to bring the entire structure up to city and state building codes
Music Hall Trustees indicate that the Fall Festival scheduled for August will be postponed, and that the
city will suffer loses of approximately $1.5 million due to the loss of at least three large conventions.
Further, the Trustees deny reports that the north and south wings will be razed. The statement they
issued indicates that the Music Hall Association has funding to make repairs and improvements to
the center building, but will keep the wings closed until funding is obtained.
D.C. Keller, Chair of the Chamber of Commerce Convention Committee, calls for the courts to order a
complete reorganization of the Cincinnati Music Hall Association.
The Cincinnati Music Hall Association proceeds with remodeling of Music Hall proper, which will consist
of the installation of an automatic sprinkler system, rewiring, and reconstruction of balcony stairways.
The Chamber of Commerce floats the idea of Music Hall to be part of the proposed civic center.
The area for the center also would include the Odeon, YMCA, Washington Park and Memorial Hall,
and extend as far back as 12th and Central.
A campaign is undertaken to finance reconstruction of the Great Organ.
1923 ''Modernization'' of the original auditorium organ
marks the beginning of the end for grand old instrument.
1925 Music Hall is transformed into a 15th century cathedral setting for Max Reinhardt's
Debris accumulated for several years and stored throughout both wings - including old rags, paint cans,
pieces of wood from exhibitor booths, broken chairs,
old signs, etc. - leads the city to declare the wings as a fire hazard. Within a few weeks, all the
debris is removed. However, due to the condition of the roofs, both remained closed to the public.
1926 In December, general plans for renovation of 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. Plans also include installing new seats and painting Springer Auditorium, and the addition
of new rear street-level entrances.
On the 26th of May, the City of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Music Hall Association enter into an
whereby, for the sum of one dollar ($1.00), CMHA will own and, within three years, remodel
Cincinnati Music Hall.
Despite the condition of the wings' roofs, the annual Auto Show was held in mid January in both wings.
Additionally, the stage of Music Hall is transformed into a dance floor complete with orchestras, with
dancing every afternoon and evening until the show closed.
During the Ohio Food Show at the end of January, a wedding was performed on the stage in Music Hall
as ''The Wedding March'' was played on the hall's magnificent pipe organ. It is believed to be the
first public wedding ceremony ever performed at an exposition.
Work begins mid-year on improvements for the North and South Wings, including new floors and roofs.
While digging under
the south wing, 65 graves were discovered. John D. Powell of the American Wrecking & Salvage Company
states that, with city approval, he would provide a coffin and reinter them in that location.
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.
1928 Music Hall celebrates its 50th anniversary with Golden
On October 3, the newly remodeled hall was dedicated during the Greater Cincinnati Industrial Exposition.
In an address to all attending, Robert A. Taft, VP of the Cincinnati Music Hall Association, said that
as soon as funding is available, the main auditorium will be redecorated and improved with new seats,
and that the dressing rooms would be renovated. He also promised the entire exterior would be sand
blasted. Taft also expressed hope that the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra would return to Music Hall.
1929 Topper Club opens in South Wing, with Egyptian decor complete with Sphinx.
Thomas Alva Edison is honored at Music Hall.
A concert is held at Music Hall to celebrate the anniversary of the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts - now
Cincinnati ArtsWave - which was founded in 1927 by Mr. and Mrs. Charles P. and Anna Sinton Taft. .
1931 Society of American Florists and Ornamental Horticulturists hold National Flower and Garden Show.
1935 The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra returns to Music Hall.
Greater Cincinnati Women's Exposition is held.
Cincinnati Municipal and Industrial Exposition is held.
1937 Music Hall is almost razed as 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.
1939 The Music Hall Association files for reorganization under the Bankruptcy Act.
1941 Miami Valley Industry and Defense Exposition is held, furthering the regional effort in
World War II.
In September, the City of Cincinnati acquires title and responsibility for Music Hall complex for $222,500.
1946 University of Cincinnati Bearcats basketball joins wrestling and boxing for three seasons
in North Wing.
1949 A face lift begins for Music Hall.
1951 During the holidays, Music Hall is used as a parcel post center.
1952 General Dwight D. Eisenhower appears at Music Hall as the Republican nominee for president.
1953 Cincinnati's first used car show is slated for September in Music Hall.
The World Premiere of ''Taming of the Shrew'' brings opera back to Music Hall.
1954 Music Hall re-opens in September following three years of repairs and improvements,
including redecoration of Springer auditorium and the foyer.
The auditorium was completely remodeled: ceiling and wall panels were painted in a red and grey color scheme,
with ornamentation in an off-white with gold accents.
New carpeting and new "theater" seats in red velour were installed and aisles were widened,
which resulted in an increase of the hall's capacity to 3,706 seats.
The proscenium arch was repainted and accented in antique gold and re-lighted.
A valence of draped red velvet was hung and five new stage curtains on double travelers were installed.
The doors to the auditorium were replaced and the foyer was redecorated with walls in a dark grey and
burgundy red ceiling panels accented in off-white. Also, the columns in the foyer and upper promenade
were painted in an off-white. Modern new lighting in the ceiling replaced the original lighting fixtures.
Additional work carried out during this time included the installation of new plumbing and new
electrical. Backstage, the fly gallery was re-roped and the new lighting installed on stage.
Exterior work included a new roof and water-proofing of the exterior.
Plans begin for a convention hall which would be linked to Music Hall.
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.
1959 Topper Club's Egyptian decor gives way to Hawaiian
theme, including world's largest color photomural--
showing Diamond Head above Waikiki.
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.
1965 Mirror from old Burnet House Hotel (4th and Vine) is installed in Music Hall foyer.
1969 Corbett Foundation finances further major renovations, including addition of offices for
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, and opens with Arrigo Boito's Mefistofele.
1973 Volunteer Music Hall Guides start giving tours of building.
1974 New seating is installed in Main Auditorium as gift of Corbett Foundation.
1975 A parking garage is completed to the west of the building -- a gift from Corbett
Foundation -- with a skywalk
across Central Parkway connecting into Music Hall.
Music Hall is designated a National Historic Landmark.
1978 Music Hall celebrates its 100th anniversary with Centennial Saengerfest.
Music Hall was threatened with the loss of its liquor license in 1978 because it served alcohol
during the showing of the controversial play Oh, Calcutta!.
1984 Critic's Club opens off main foyer, as gift of Corbett Foundation and the Music Hall Association.
1985 Architectural lighting is installed for exterior of Music Hall, as gift of Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson.
1987 Jean Ries, the Executive Director of the Corbett Foundation, Joyce Van Wye, Louise Dieterle Nippert
1992 Music Hall Association merges to form Cincinnati Arts Association for joint management of
Memorial Hall and new Aronoff Center for the Arts.
The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall receives the 501(c)(3) designation and is formally established as
a volunteer support organization to help preserve and enhance the Hall.
Corbett Foundation replaces seating in Springer (Main) Auditorium of Music Hall
Cincinnati Music Hall Association merges with the newly-formed Cincinnati Arts Association to provide for a common Board of Trustees and management of Music Hall, Hamilton County Memorial Hall, and the new Aronoff Center for the Arts
1994 Corbett Foundation finances refurbishing of Corbett Tower.
1996 President Bill Clinton speaks at Music Hall. President Clinton, then in the midst of a
re-election campaign, is
endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police for his longtime support of law enforcement.
1998 American Classical Music Hall of Fame installs inaugural laureates in gala at Music Hall,
years of classical music tradition in this historic building.
Music Hall Ballroom
(originally the old Topper Club) enjoys major transformation into
an elegant state-of-the-art, multi-purpose ballroom and meeting facility.
1999 The Music Hall Timeline is installed in a west corridor of Music Hall.
2003 The 125th Anniversary of Cincinnati's historic Music Hall is celebrated in grand style.
Construction begins in the north wing of Music Hall on the new headquarters for the Cincinnati Opera. This necessitates
moving the Cincinnati Arts Association's Music Hall staff to offices on the second floor of the south wing.
2004 In October, the Cincinnati Opera moves into the its new headquarters, the Corbett Opera
2005 On January 13, the Corbett Opera Center is officially dedicated. The Center, is named for
Cincinnati arts patrons J. Ralph and Patricia Corbett. The Corbett Foundation provided a $1.5 million lead grant
for the project, as did the City of Cincinnati. The renovation gives the Opera a reception area and box office off Elm
Street, ample space for administrative and production offices, meeting rooms, and rehearsal room, and restores much of the
north wing's original facade, including the windows.
On May 25, the documentary Music Hall: Cincinnati Finds Its Voice
premieres on CET, public television. The 90-minute program was conceived and funded by the Society for the Preservation
of Music Hall, and produced by CET, in cooperation with SPMH and the Cincinnati Museum Center's Historical Society Library.
The documentary is a finalist for a Post-Corbett Award.
2006 The Producers of the documentary Music Hall: Cincinnati Finds Its Voice are
presented with regional Emmy.
Awards from National Academy of Television Arts Sciences, Ohio Valley Chapter, in the category
of Documentary - Cultural for their work.
2007 Following several years of effort on the part of Society for the Preservation of Music Hall
Petersen, it is announced that the Mighty Wurlitzer organ which was originally created for Cincinnati's
Albee Theatre, would be refurbished and installed in Music Hall's Ballroom, where a number of pieces from the Albee decorate
2009 The Albee Mighty Wurlitzer Organ is dedicated in a
standing-room-only concert on Saturday, November 28th.
Music Hall Revitalization Committee is formed with Cincinnati business entrepreneur
Jack Rouse at the
helm to oversee needed structural improvements to Music Hall.
(formerly Polshek Partnership) of New York City was chosen as the
design architect for the $100-million revitalization of Cincinnati's historic Music Hall
The Community Counseling Service Company, LLC, a fundraising consulting and management firm, will provide philanthropic
support for the revitalization effort.
2012 The Music Hall Revitalization Committee holds public sessions on the plan to renovate Music Hall.
to begin in spring of 2013. Public meetings are held in January in which hundreds voice their disapproval
of the plans, in particular those that remove the chandelier from the auditorium and reduce seating.
Cincinnati icon and philanthropist Louise Nippert dies just shy of her 101st birthday. Mrs. Nippert was devoted to
the arts and was a generous supporter of music and Music Hall in Cincinnati. She was also one of the initial Trustees
Jack Rouse resigns as head of MHRC in May and is replaced by Otto M. Budig, Jr.
President Barack Obama attends the first town hall meeting of the 2012 campaign season,
held in the Music Hall Ballroom.
In December, the City of Cincinnati and the Music Hall Revitalization Company (MHRC) reach an agreement on
a lease of the building, with an eye to easing the work needed to fund renovation of the structure.
Under the agreement, MHRC will lease the building for 75 years, and pay all operating and maintenance expenses.
2013 The first LumenoCity event is held in renovated Washington Park, on August 3 and 4,
Louis Langrée as the new music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
The event featured a specially-designed lightshow on the facade of Music Hall and is an overwhelming
success, drawing 35,000 people.
The Music Hall Revitalization Company announces it will partner with 3CDC (Cincinnati Center City
Development Company) for the renovation work on Music Hall, with 3CDC acting as project manager.
A revised timeline for the revitalization is developed, with work targeted to start in June 2016.
2014 In June, the National Trust for Historic Preservation adds Music Hall to its list of
most endangered historic places.
Hamilton County Commissioners decide that funding for Music Hall's revitalization will not be
included in a proposed ''Icon Tax'' levy, and the MHRC redoubles its efforts to find new funding for
The year closes out with good news, as the State of Ohio awards Music Hall with a one-time historic
tax credit totalling $25 million.
2015 Fundraising for the revitalization of Music Hall is given a huge boost,
$10 million gift from the Lindner family.
Phase I structural work is completed over the summer.
A new design team and an acoustics firm are announced for the project, which is now estimated to run
$129 million. The design team is comprised of two architectural firms: Martinez + Johnson Architecture,
a Washington, DC, firm, and Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel, Pittsburgh. Messer Construction is hired
as construction manager.
The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, May Festival, and Cincinnati Opera and other Music Hall tenants
begin the arduous task of packing up everything, in order to vacate Music Hall by the end of the year.
The task includes packing up
the the 140-year-old orchestra library and moving all music to a temporary home at the Public Library
of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's main brand downtown.
2016 Performances continue in Music Hall's Springer Auditorium through May
while construction work continues during the daytime.
In January, the SPMH Board of Directors votes to gift the renovation campaign with $3 million, made
possible by the Corbett Foundation. The project is now estimated to cost $135 million.
In March, work under the stage uncovered skeletons. The remains were identified as human, and
respectfully moved to a final resting place in Spring Grove Cemetery, along with many bones uncovered
during previous construction work.
In May, the final ''pre-construction'' SPMH Wurlitzer Concert is held in the ballroom.
After the final May Festival performance on Saturday, May 28, Music Hall is officially closed for renovation.
A work session is held Sunday, May 29, to remove hundreds of seats donated to the Sorg Opera House in Middletown.
At the SPMH Annual Meeting on September 13, held off-site for the first time the organization's history,
Stephen Leeper, 3CDC's President and Chief Executive Officer, details for SPMH members the work that
is underway, as well as expected revisions in design for Corbett Tower, the specific beneficiary of
the SPMH donation toward Music Hall's renovation.