Music Hall: Three Buildings in One

When Music Hall was constructed, the project was done in two phases. The center (and best known) building, which today is the "public" part of the structure, was opened in 1878. Built primarily to accommodate music events, such as the May Festival, the center section housed audience, chorus, orchestra and the Hook & Hastings organ.

Right after Music Hall opened, the two wings were built. The north wing was known as the Mechanics hall, sometimes called Industry or Power hall. The wing to the south was named the Horticulture or Art hall. Each of these names indicated the types of expositions and events were held in those wings. Of course, at the time and for many years to come, the center -- Music Hall -- was also used for these expositions.

Entrance to the carriageway between the north and main halls as seen from Elm Street The areas between the buildings were used as passageways for carriages, which would pull up and discharge passengers, or pick them up after events. These areas still exist today. While the Central Parkway ends are bricked up, the Elm Street sides are open, with iron gates blocking entry. While standing on the street in front of Music Hall, you can actually see the sky through one of the gates.

When in Music Hall, many will see doors that are painted the same color as the walls and which are locked to keep people from wandering out and getting stuck in the courtyard areas. Music Hall and the performing arts organizations that have offices in the hall have sometimes held events or parties in these areas, but they are closed to the general public.

1879 map of the Music Hall floor plan


The Cincinnati Symphony Orchesta has a great webpage devoted to the renovation of Music Hall.

As you look toward a enjoying performances and activities in Music Hall in the coming years, take a moment to reflect on the past. Share your memories of special times -- from the joyful to the sentimental and everything in between. Maybe you attended a party in which you were able to go out into the courtyard? We'd love to include your story and photos on this page!

Music Hall documentary producer-director Sheri Lutz checks out the courtyard between buildings

Music Hall documentary producer-director Sheri Lutz checks out the courtyard between buildings
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