Woolsey Hall

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Woolsey Hall, circa 1905
Woolsey Hall, Yale University

Woolsey Hall is the primary auditorium at Yale University, located at 500 College Street, New Haven, Connecticut. Woolsey Hall, which seats 2,695 people,[1] was built as part of a complex, including the Memorial Rotunda and the University Commons, for the Yale bicentennial celebration in 1901. The architects were Carrère and Hastings, designers of the New York Public Library.[2] The building is named for Theodore Dwight Woolsey, former Yale president.[3]

The ornately decorated hall is home to the Newberry Memorial Organ, one of the most renowned Symphonic organs in the world. This hall serves as the main performance venue for the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, the Yale Bands, the Yale Symphony Orchestra, the Yale Philharmonia, the Yale Glee Club, and many smaller, student-run ensembles such as a cappella singing groups.

Woolsey Hall's murals represent the ideal of a classical education and include images on the nine muses and the goddess Athena. They reflect the age when Yale was an all-male college. The Hall is entered via the Memorial Rotunda, a vestibule containing memorials to sons of Yale who lost their lives in all American wars from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War.

The hall's lack of draperies, carpeting and upholstered seats all contribute to its acoustics for organ performance, though the acoustics work far more in favor of the organ than for other sounds. Woolsey Hall predates any major studies within the field of acoustics, so aside from its large size, rectangular shape, hard surfaces and high vaulted ceiling, it has no peculiar architectural properties that contribute positively to its sound. Choral singers are sometimes hampered by Woolsey's muddy resonance, which easily obscures text and delicate timbres, and can also make it difficult to hear oneself on stage. Though Yale University's primary recital hall, it still lacks modern amenities including: universal accessibility for people with disabilities, air conditioning, and industry-standard lighting.

One seat on the first balcony was reputedly made extra large to accommodate Yale's ultimate "big man on campus," trustee and alumnus William Howard Taft.

The Bicentennial Buildings, of which Woolsey Hall is a part, sit on Hewitt Quadrangle.


  1. ^ "Yale School of Music - Facilities". Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  2. ^ Ossman, Laurie; Ewing, Heather (2011). Carrère and Hastings, The Masterworks. Rizzoli USA. ISBN 9780847835645.
  3. ^ "Teutonic Constitutionalism - the Role of Ethno-Juridical Discourse in the Spanish-American War", by Mark S. Weiner, in Foreign in a Domestic Sense: Puerto Rico, American Expansion, and the Constitution, edited by Christina Duffy Burnett and Burke Marshall; published June 29, 2001, by Duke University Press

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Coordinates: 41°18′40″N 72°55′33″W / 41.31111°N 72.92583°W / 41.31111; -72.92583