Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Retired in Ann Arbor: Hill Auditorium

One of the special destinations that can be found here in Ann Arbor, is Hill Auditorium.  It is the largest indoor entertainment venue here, and can seat 3,538 people.  It was named after Arthur Hill, a regent of the university from 1901-1909.  He bequeathed $200,000 to the university for the construction of a venue for lectures and musical performances, and when it opened in 1913, it could hold the entire student body.

Ann Arbor News photo from 1912

Decorated for "The Messiah" 2011
Albert Kahn was the architect, and besides designing the beautiful interior and dignified exterior, he also was chartered with creating a building with perfect acoustics.

Looking at the ceiling, from our seats
Wikipedia reports that Kahn wrote to the pre-eminent designer Hugh Tallant, to see if it would be possible to build an auditorium of that size where every seat could hear.  Tallant responded in the affirmative, and designed an auditorium in the shape of a megaphone, with an oval stage.

Kahn's granddaughter reported that after the building was nearly finished, they tested it out by having her drop a pin on the stage, which he heard from the last seat of the second balcony.

Everyone from the New York Philharmonic to the Grateful Dead has played here.  I remember seeing Bonnie Raitt here in the 1970's, where she and her band were standing on the stage, with much clapping and stomping going on in the audience, and she looked up at the crowd and said, "this place is WAY to classy for me!".

Lucky for us, we have a world-class venue, and there is no dress code enforced.  So jeans?  Sure.  Bonnie Raitt?  Yes!  (May 25).  Enjoy the show!

Photo from the Michigan Daily,
during renovation in 2002

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