San Angelo City Auditorium - February 8, 1929
Elta Joyce Murphey Performance Hall -September 2017
In 1928, construction began on San Angelo City Hall and Auditorium began and it opened to the public in a celebration that was so grand, it lasted 2 days and included the Fighting Texas A&M Marching Band. It was an architectural marvel and a brave conquest at the brink of the Great Depression.
In 1972, after 43 years of robust activity, a name familiar to many Concho Valley residents said of the City Hall and Auditorium “We must tear it down, let it fall down, or fix it.” These words were spoken by then City Commissioner F. L. “Steve” Stephens.
45 years later, San Angelo Performing Arts Coalition formed a a “public-private” partnership with the city of San Angelo and led a project to renovate the auditorium as well as convert the old Coca Cola Warehouse into a multi-use performance space. The Coalition successfully raised funds and implemented the plans to renovate, restore and add over 40,000 square feet to The San Angelo City Auditorium. It’s no coincidence major donors, leaders & Coalition members included members the Stephens family; Steve and his wife Pollyanna, daughter Susan and husband Randy Brooks, and daughter Liz and husband Devon Bates.
The City Auditorium opened to the public on February 8, 1929. Architect Gustavus Trost (Trost & Trost Architects in El Paso, Texas) was the designer of the San Angelo City Hall and Auditorium. The original budget was around $300,000 when construction began in April 1928. The 3rd and 4th floors remained unfinished as the 4th floor was intended to be the jail, but it was never brought to fruition. Many years of performances meetings and events took place with countless updates and temporary fixes to longterm problems. Jumping ahead several decades, specifically the year 2009, the City Auditorium doors closed after Ballet San Angelo (formerly San Angelo Civic Ballet) produced The Nutcracker, which would be the last performance to grace the auditorium stage until late 2017.
The Murphey Performance Hall, now a Texas Historical Landmark, is an extraordinarily beautiful classic architectural design that boasts intricate details such as hand stenciled designs on the interior ceilings and walls. From 2014-2017, the construction updates included City Hall as well as a massive theatre renovation to install modern technology and add thousands of square feet to allow the stage to be home to professional touring productions, symphonies, ballets, theatre, choir concerts, public speakers, graduations, dance recitals and many more creative and educational opportunities that can be shared with our community. Great care was taken to preserve as much of the original building as possible, while the restoration of elements such as seating have been reproduced to appear original, maintaining the integrity of the original design.
To see more about the Stephen’s Performing Arts Center, the sister building to The Murphey Performance Hall, please click here.