An inside look into one of Miami University’s oldest buildings

By Danielle Porter

Hall Auditorium, completed in 1908, has welcomed thousands of people to concerts, shows and lectures over the past century at Miami University. It has even been a set in a movie — “Ides of March” —  starring George Clooney and Ryan Gosling.

It is located at 121 S. Campus Avenue, close to Uptown.   

The auditorium was built in 1908 and known then as just the Miami University Auditorium. In 1926 it was renamed Benton Hall, after Miami’s 12th president, Guy Potter Benton. In 1969 it was renamed for Miami’s fifth president, John W. Hall. Benton’s name was then moved to a new building, according to university files. The building used to be home to the University President’s office and administrative staff, which is now located in Roudebush Hall.

Hall Auditorium is best known for hosting large concerts put on by the Miami Music Department, dance shows, orchestra concerts, and lecture series. Some notable lecture series guests that have spoken in the auditorium include Juju Chang, Gregory Maguire and Hope Solo. John Philip Sousa’s band once performed there, as did dancer Martha Graham. Notable speakers who have stood on the stage have been as varied as architect Frank Lloyd Wright, poets Robert Frost and Edna St. Vincent Millay and political satirist P.J. O’Rourke.

“When this building first opened it was like the cream of the crop,” said Chris Smith, a technical theater specialist at Miami. “It was like the main space on campus.”

Smith primarily works in Hall Auditorium but also works part time in Millett Hall. He shared a lot of history about Hall Auditorium and said the building underwent reconstruction in 1992 which allowed the main stage to expand 30 feet and an orchestra pit to be put in.

Hall Auditorium now has a capacity of 738 people but used to hold more than 1,000 people. The 1992 renovations also affected the balcony seating which used to wrap around the top of the auditorium. When first stepping into the main entrance of the building there is a lobby that is covered in the original wood from when the building was first established.

The sea of green chairs in the auditorium faces the stage that has a view of the proscenium arch which is hand painted with red ribbons. On the ceilings of the auditorium, there is more hand painted artwork which visitors can check out when they visit.

Hall also currently houses the Department of Philosophy for Miami University but is mostly used for large concerts or events.