Centennial Hall (Tucson, Arizona)

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Centennial Hall
Address 1020 East University Boulevard
Tucson, Arizona
United States
Coordinates 32°13′53″N 110°57′20″W / 32.23149°N 110.95543°W / 32.23149; -110.95543
Owner University of Arizona
Operator UApresents
Capacity 2,500[1]
Opened April 22, 1937
Architect Roy Place[1]

Centennial Hall is located on the campus of the University of Arizona, in Tucson, and was the campus auditorium, designed by campus architect Roy Place and using the signature red brick that is a part of almost all UA buildings. The auditorium opened in 1937 and presented musical programs, as well as stage plays, to the student community as well as to the general public. The auditorium was also used as a general lecture hall.[1]

From 1947-1984, the auditorium hosted the Tucson Sunday Evening Forum. Many prominent American figures appeared at the Forum, including Martin Luther King Jr, Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Jackie Robinson, and Walter Kronkite.[2]

According to historian David Leighton, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., spoke twice at the Sunday Evening Forum. His first visit was in 1959, where he gave a talk called “A Great Time To Be Alive” to a capacity crowd of mostly activists and university faculty and students. In his talk, "he warned that the U.S. faced a difficult challenge to achieve racial integration but predicted that within five years much of the mass resistance of the time would be gone..." His second trip, to what is now called Centennial Hall, was in 1962, and his topic was a “Stride Toward Freedom,” in which he spoke to the success and failures of the Civil Rights Movement up to that point including the end of segregation, in 150 eating places in the Deep South and the need for African Americans to register to vote. He was honored at a reception following his second talk and is known to have been paid $1,000 for this speaking engagement.[3]

The facility was extensively renovated in 1985 at a cost of over $4 million, and was renamed to honor the University's 100th anniversary. The theatre is currently operated by UApresents, the University of Arizona's professional performing arts presenter. UApresents brings the world's finest theatre, dance, spoken word, classical, jazz and world music to Southern Arizona. Some University lectures are held in the venue as well.

In 2010, it was announced that the Broadway in Tucson series would be bringing the smash Broadway hit Wicked to Tucson. This was the first time a Broadway in Tucson show was held at Centennial Hall. The presentation of Wicked was co-sponsored by UApresents; subsequently this represented the first partnership between the two organizations.

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  1. ^ a b c Raines, Elaine (June 4, 2009). "The UA Auditorium was the largest in the state". Arizona Daily Star. 
  2. ^ Eubank, Johanna (February 10, 2011). "Tales from the Morgue: Eleanor Roosevelt always drew a crowd in Tucson". Arizona Daily Star. 
  3. ^ Leighton, David (April 2, 2017). "Street Smarts: MLK Jr. raised his voice to the rafters in Tucson". Arizona Daily Star. 

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