Public Hall, or Public Auditorium, opened in 1922 at 500 Lakeside Avenue. It was primarily used as a convention center for its large size and in fact was one of the nation’s largest convention halls until the second half of the 20th century. However, many musical acts played there as well.
Public Hall has a separate Music Hall which opened in 1929. In 1935 Public Hall was updated to add more seating and space for the upcoming Republican National Convention in 1936. An article by the Associated Press in the New York Times stated, “The main auditorium seats 12,000 persons. A music hall which opens into it, seats 3,000 more. If necessary, hundreds can be accommodated on the stage.”
On February 10, 1935, the NAACP held a meeting in Music Hall to present their stance on anti-lynching. As the Call & Post reported, “The organization is supporting the Costigan-Wagner Bill, which is now one of several anti-lynching bill now pending in congress.” This meeting was open to the public and had no admission fee.
Many meetings regarding racial relations in the United States were held at The Public Auditorium. In January 1942 a meeting was held in regards to Jim Crowism and discrimination against African American soldiers who were fighting in the War. This meeting had a rough estimate of 3,500 attendees from the Cleveland area.
In November 1943, Duke Ellington and his Orchestra performed at the Public Music Auditorium. The Call & Post stated, “tickets bought in advance are $1.00 plus tax, while at the door Monday night they will be $1.50. Ticket holders can walk right in and begin dancing instead of standing in long lines that will pack the lobby that night.”
Throughout the ’50s and ’60s Public Hall hosted many musicians. Specifically, Musicians like Dinah Washington, the Mills Brothers, and Woody Herman in May 1952. Much of these performers traveled across the country to share their talents amongst numerous individuals.
The Public Auditorium is still open today and is officially known as Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland. The Music Hall within the Public Auditorium is also still in operation.
- “Dinah Washington, Mills Bros., Woody Herman: Star Caravan Comes to Public Hall this Saturday.” Call & Post. May 24, 1952.
- “Duke Ellington & Orchestra at Public Hall, November 29.” Call & Post. November 27, 1943.
- “Mass Meeting: Cleveland Negro Spanish War Hero Calls for Enforcement of President’s Order to Cease Job Discrimination in U.S.” Call and Post. January 31, 1942.
- The Associated Press. “$12,500,000 Hall Ready: Main Auditorium, in Downtown Cleveland, Will Seat 12,000.” New York Times. December 17, 1935.
- “Walter White Speaks at Anti-Lynching Meeting Sunday: Public Music Hall Will be Scene of Monster Mass Meeting Next Sunday.” Call & Post. February 9, 1935.