Benedum Center

Coordinates: 40°26′34″N 79°59′59″W / 40.44278°N 79.99972°W / 40.44278; -79.99972
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Benedum Center for the Performing Arts
Former namesStanley Theatre (1928−1987)
Address237 7th Street
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
OwnerPittsburgh Cultural Trust
TypeMovie palace
Current usePerforming arts center
OpenedFebruary 27, 1927
ReopenedSeptember 25, 1987
Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera
Stanley Theater and Clark Building
Benedum Center is located in Pittsburgh
Benedum Center
Benedum Center is located in Pennsylvania
Benedum Center
Benedum Center is located in the United States
Benedum Center
Coordinates40°26′34″N 79°59′59″W / 40.44278°N 79.99972°W / 40.44278; -79.99972
AreaPittsburgh Cultural District
ArchitectHoffman and Henon
Architectural styleLate 19th and 20th Century Revivals
NRHP reference No.86000303[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPFebruary 27, 1986
Designated CPHSNovember 20, 1984[2]
Designated PHLF1976[3]

The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts (formerly the Stanley Theatre) is a theater and concert hall located at 237 7th Street in the Cultural District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Designed by the Philadelphia architectural firm Hoffman-Henon, it was built in 1928 as the Stanley Theatre. The former movie palace was renovated and reopened as the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts in 1987.[4]


Animated sign from the old Stanley Theater on the Benedum Center

The Stanley Theatre, built at a cost of $3 million, opened as a deluxe movie palace February 27, 1928, with seating for 3,800 people (it now seats 2,885). It was designed by the architectural firm Hoffman−Henon who were best known for their design of 35 theaters in the Philadelphia area. The Stanley Theatre was the largest movie theater in Western Pennsylvania. Operated by the Stanley Warner Theatres circuit division of Warner Bros., it was Pittsburgh's main first run house for all Warner Bros. film releases.

Frank Sinatra played here December 10, 1943.

In 1974 War and King Crimson played at the Stanley.[5]

On April 29, 1974, the King Biscuit Flower Hour recorded a show at the Stanley by Robin Trower for a later broadcast.

In 1976, the Stanley was purchased and renovated by the Cinemette Corporation to be operated as a movie theater. In 1977, DiCesare Engler Productions bought the theater.

September 23, 1978, Frank Zappa played two sets at the Stanley Theatre.

Live rock and roll concerts presented through 1984.

The Grateful Dead performed four shows at the venue, and reggae musician Bob Marley performed his last live concert there in 1980, before his death in 1981.[6] The only known photographs from the show were featured in Kevin Macdonald's documentary film Marley.[7]

Prince kicked off his Controversy Tour in 1981 at the Stanley. The rock band Kansas chose the Benedum Center to host its 40th Anniversary Fan Appreciation Concert on August 17, 2013, which all the original members were to attend.

The Stanley Theater was named "Number One Auditorium in the U.S." by Billboard[8][9] several times during the DiCesare-Engler years.[10][11][12]


Facade of the Benedum Center

On September 25, 1987, after a $43 million restoration was completed, the Stanley reopened as the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. In converting the former movie palace into a full performing arts center, a new building including an extension to the stage and support facilities was built at the rear of the theater. The interior was largely preserved and restored to its original design, with the addition of a new acoustical baffle covering the original proscenium.

Chandelier in the Benedum Center

The centerpiece of the auditorium is the large chandelier in the dome above the balcony. It weighs 4,700 lb (2,100 kg), is 20 feet (6.1 m) high by 12 feet (3.7 m) wide. Its restoration was dedicated to the late H.J. Heinz II.

Today the center is the home of the Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, all of which used to be based at Heinz Hall. The 2,800-seat Benedum Center is a centerpiece of the Pittsburgh Cultural District and is one of the most utilized theaters in the nation today.[citation needed]

The center has hosted several PBS doo-wop television concert specials including Doo Wop 50. The TV game show Wheel of Fortune taped two weeks of shows at the theater for the first two weeks of their 16th season in 1998.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ "Local Historic Designations". Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  3. ^ Historic Landmark Plaques 1968-2009 (PDF). Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. 2010. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  4. ^ Benedum Center for the Performing Arts Cinema Treasures
  5. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search".
  6. ^ " | News". 2011-05-11. Archived from the original on 2010-12-24. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  7. ^ Scott, David Meerman (2012-04-20). "Bob Marley and me". Web Ink Now. Retrieved 2015-07-30. Marley's last show was a critical aspect of the film and there was no video or photo record... except mine.
  8. ^ Billboard Magazine. Top Venues. TIA-50.22 December 1979.
  9. ^ Billboard Magazine. Top Venues. TIA-46. 20 December 1980.
  10. ^ "Engler, Clear Channel Communications part ways". 2004-10-27. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  11. ^ From Beatles to Broadway, DiCesare-Engler has booked it all. Snively, M. Pittsburgh Tribune Review 22 December 1994.
  12. ^ "The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts". Archived from the original on 2011-08-07. Retrieved 2011-08-13.

External links[edit]