Please enjoy these timelines documenting the auditorium's history, which include milestone events, as well as performances on the famous stage. As research proceeds, these lists will continue to be updated. Everyone is invited to share information about events held, such as images of posters, ticket stubs or other documentation in order to verify events and/or to add to the timeline by emailing Kelly@lmaky.com.
1929: Opening Ceremonies for the community public auditorium and WWI War Memorial are held.
1930's - 40's: Live concerts, stage productions, concerts, ballets, pipe organ concerts, silent movies and bands performed on stage to sell-out audiences. As a regional war memorial, numerous military events were also held over the years.
1948 - 1958: Louisville Philharmonic Society perform.
1948 - 2019: The Thoroughbreds' performance run at the auditorium sets record as longest running group to hold productions at the venue.
1950's: Live performances continued with graduations, dance events, fundraisers, talent themed programs and national tours. Such productions of "South Pacific," "The King and I," as well as large music names of the time, such as Bill Haley and Ella Fitzgerald.
1951 - 2022: Kentucky American Legion begins long-term office lease for a resource center to support members from the region who are veterans. After 70 plus years, the organization moves to larger facilities.
1954: A $170,000 renovation to improve acoustics involves lowering the ceiling, closing off the side balconies, and reducing the seating capacity from 2,349 to 1,742.
1954 - 1974: WHAS Crusade for Children begin hosting televised telethon at the auditorium and during that time raises $8 million dollars in donations.
1960's: National acts, such as The Rolling Stones and Lovin' Spoonful, made stops in Louisville giving legendary performances.
1970's: Live performances continued attracting artists such as Billy Joel, John Mellencamp and rock bands such as KISS, Aerosmith, and Supertramp.
1970-1983: The Louisville Ballet performs.
1977: Dale Royer assumes director role after Basil Commissar retires.
1978: Mikhail Baryshnikov performs after local stage union agrees with auditorium management to cease ongoing strike.
1980's: National production of the Peking Opera performs as tours continue with The Pretenders, Robert Palmer, REM, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Alternative artists of the time, such as Petra and Violent Femmes, introduced new audiences to the auditorium.
1990's: Larger tours left the auditorium for more modern facilities downtown as the new Kentucky Center for the Arts and other state-owned facilities. More alternative groups, such as Warren Zevon and Ani DiFranco, also brought new audience to the historic auditorium.
1994: Louisville METRO Government begins to lease offices while making upgrades to the facility, including a passenger elevator and renovations to the ballroom.
Longtime organist, Tim Baker, and supporters of the Pilcher Pipe Organ formed the "William H. Bauer Foundation" to raise awareness and funds for the preservation of the World's Largest Pilcher Pipe Organ.
1996: Poet Ron Whitehead hosts the Official Hunter S. Thompson Tribute. Johnny Depp, Roxanne Pulitzer, and David Amram attend. Writer Paul McDonald says, “It was a wild evening” and that Thompson was “blasting anyone within close range with a fire extinguisher.”
2000's: Graduations, concerts, and dance events begin scheduling more events due to the affordability and size of the auditorium seating.
2011: Pilcher Pipe Organ stops during a performance resulting from electrical enhancements to 1929 instrument. Emergency support by the community assisted with the repairs.
2015: The auditorium schedule reaches over 100 events in one year. Comfort and location of the venue attracted national, regional and state dance events.
2017: After 40 years of service, Director Dale Royer retires, and Kelly Gream assumes leadership as the new director.
Plans begin to refurbish, repair, and begin updates to improve the experiences for guests, patrons, and clients.
New website, ticketing service and marketing plans are introduced to promote the business as a multi-purpose facility.
2018: Special events as pipe organ fundraisers, holiday parties, corporate functions, weddings, private events, and group tour experiences begin to be scheduled.
2019: 90th Anniversary is celebrated with a community presentation and free concert by “The Thoroughbreds” performing on Memorial Day.
Bluegrass Honor Flight Hosts 75th D-Day Celebration and Concert Stage One Family Theater performs two productions at the auditorium after fire damage to the roof closes the Kentucky Center temporarily.
2020: Due to the Covid-19 public pandemic, the Commonwealth of Kentucky required major venues to close resulting in the cancellation of the 91st Spring and Winter Seasons. Limited operational guidelines allowed private events to be held with smaller guest counts.
91st Anniversary is celebrated virtually by requesting participation by the community via auditorium website and social media formats.
Louisville METRO Government discontinues office lease and moves out of the building.
Louisville Memorial Auditorium Foundation, Inc. is created as the fundraising non-profit organization to ensure the landmark is around another 90 years. The focus will be raising funds to add modern heat and air systems to the facility, including updating the seating, lighting & sound systems, plaster repairs to the historic auditorium while supporting the ongoing preservation of the world’s largest Pilcher Pipe Organ.
Wyncote Foundation awards a $75,000 matching grant to the auditorium's foundation to further restoration of the world's largest Pilcher Pipe Organ. The William H. Bauer Foundation donates an additional $33,000 to support the project which will repair and restore the massive pipe organ that produce the impressive sounds of the unique instrument.
William H. Bauer Foundation premieres "Magic of Christmas Past: Pipe Organ Concert and Silent Movie" via social media as a holiday gift to the community.
2021: "Walls of Fame" were added to the client Green Room honoring the rich history of artists who have performed at the landmark venue. Framed posters and pictures of famous artists such as George Gershwin, Frankie Avalon, Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello are on display.
The auditorium receives a $10,000 donation to professionally clean the beautiful stonework in the main lobby. The process will bring life back to the majestic space that welcomes guests to the historic landmark while also hosting a variety of events.
Business resumes hosting events following approved COVID-19 public health operational guidelines from the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
2022: Restoration of the World's Largest Pilcher Pipe Organ reached a pivotal point as construction of the main regulators were completed and delivered to the auditorium for installation. The wooden boxes are housed in the sub-chamber where they funnel raw air and wind produced by the blowers. Installation will take multiple months to finish due to the delicate work involved.
Louisville Memorial Auditorium Foundation, Inc.
1009 South Fourth Street, Louisville, KY 40203
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