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Music Hall (Cincinnati)

Music Hall (Cincinnati)

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Music Hall, completed in 1878, is Cincinnati's premier classical music performance hall. It serves as the home for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
As the fifth oldest orchestra in the United States, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has a legacy of fine music making as reflected in its performances in historic Music Hall, recordings, and international tours...

, Cincinnati Opera
Cincinnati Opera
Cincinnati Opera is an American opera company based in Cincinnati, Ohio and the second oldest opera company in the United States .-History:...

, May Festival Chorus
Cincinnati May Festival
The Cincinnati May Festival is a two-week annual choral festival, held during the last two weekends in May in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. The festival's roots go back to the 1840s, when Saengerfests were held in that city, bringing singers from all over the United States and abroad to perform large...

, and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra is a pops orchestra based in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, founded in 1977 out of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Its members are also the members of the Cincinnati Symphony, and the Pops is managed by the same administration...

. In January, 1975, it was recognized as a National Historic Landmark
National Historic Landmark
A National Historic Landmark is a building, site, structure, object, or district, that is officially recognized by the United States government for its historical significance...

 by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The building was designed from the start with a dual purpose - to house musical activities in its central auditorium and industrial exhibitions in its side wings. It is located at 1241 Elm Street in Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio. Cincinnati is the county seat of Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located to north of the Ohio River at the Ohio-Kentucky border, near Indiana. The population within city limits is 296,943 according to the 2010 census, making it Ohio's...

 across from historic Washington Park
Washington Park, Cincinnati, Ohio
Washington Park is bounded by West 12th, Race and Elm Streets in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. The park is owned and operated by the Cincinnati Park Board. The nearly six acre park was a Presbyterian cemetery before it was acquired by the city in 1855. The park...

 in Over-the-Rhine
Over-the-Rhine
Over-the-Rhine, sometimes shortened to OTR, is a neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is believed to be the largest, most intact urban historic district in the United States. Over-the-Rhine was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 with 943 contributing buildings...

, just minutes from the center of the downtown area. Music Hall was built over a pauper's cemetery
Potter's field
A potter's field was an American term for a place for the burial of unknown or indigent people. The expression derives from the Bible, referring to a field used for the extraction of potter's clay, which was useless for agriculture but could be used as a burial site.-Origin:The term comes from...

, which has helped fuel its reputation as one of the most haunted
Haunted house
A haunted house is a house or other building often perceived as being inhabited by disembodied spirits of the deceased who may have been former residents or were familiar with the property...

 places in America
Most Terrifying Places in America
Most Terrifying Places in America is an American paranormal documentary television series that premiered on October 9, 2009 on the Travel Channel as a stand alone special. This special was then broken down into a parted series. The series is exactly what its title implies, traveling the country in...

.

Venues



The main hall, called the Springer Auditorium in honor of founding patron Reuben Springer, has 3,516 seats and ranks acoustically as one of the finest performance venues in the world. It serves as home for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
As the fifth oldest orchestra in the United States, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has a legacy of fine music making as reflected in its performances in historic Music Hall, recordings, and international tours...

, the Cincinnati Opera
Cincinnati Opera
Cincinnati Opera is an American opera company based in Cincinnati, Ohio and the second oldest opera company in the United States .-History:...

 and the May Festival Chorus
Cincinnati May Festival
The Cincinnati May Festival is a two-week annual choral festival, held during the last two weekends in May in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. The festival's roots go back to the 1840s, when Saengerfests were held in that city, bringing singers from all over the United States and abroad to perform large...

. It is one of the largest permanent concert halls in the U.S, third only to the Metropolitan Opera House
Metropolitan Opera House (Lincoln Center)
The Metropolitan Opera House is an opera house located on Broadway at Lincoln Square in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. Part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the theater opened in 1966. It replaced the former Metropolitan Opera House at Broadway and 39th St...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and DAR Constitution Hall
DAR Constitution Hall
DAR Constitution Hall is a concert hall in Washington, D.C. It was built in 1929 by the Daughters of the American Revolution to house its annual convention when membership delegations outgrew Memorial Continental Hall. Later, the two buildings were connected by a third structure housing the DAR...

 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....


In addition to the central auditorium, the facility includes:
  • Music Hall Ballroom - accommodating up to 1,300 people, this room is the second largest meeting space in the city, encompassing nearly 20000 square feet (1,858.1 m²). It is frequently used for large receptions, exhibitions, fashion shows, class reunions and breakfast, lunch and dinner gatherings. In October 1998, a $1.8 million renovation of the Ballroom was completed. In July 2007 organ rebuilder Ronald F. Wehmeier of Cincinnati announced the Mighty Wurlitzer
    Wurlitzer
    The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, usually referred to simply as Wurlitzer, was an American company that produced stringed instruments, woodwinds, brass instruments, theatre organs, band organs, orchestrions, electronic organs, electric pianos and jukeboxes....

     theater organ that once graced the old Albee Theater in Cincinnati will be restored and installed in Music Hall’s Ballroom far a New Year’s Eve 2009 debut.

  • Corbett Tower - a setting for a wide variety of events, ranging from weddings and receptions to grand dinners and parties. It has seating for up to 300, as well as a stage, controlled sound and light systems, dance floor, kitchen, and bar facilities. Corbett Tower is located on the third floor near the front side of the building.

  • Critic's Club - A dining club that seats 50, located in the basement level of the north exposition wing.

Graveyard


On September 13, 1818 the City of Cincinnati purchased a lot of land on the west side of Elm Street, and just north of 12th Street, from Jesse Embree for $3,200. On January 22, 1821 the Ohio State Legislature passed an act that established "a Commercial Hospital and Lunatic Asylum for the state of Ohio." Thus Ohio's first insane asylum was erected in Cincinnati on 4 acres (16,187.4 m²) of land bounded by the Miami and Erie Canal
Miami and Erie Canal
The Miami and Erie Canal was a canal that connected the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Ohio with Lake Erie in Toledo, Ohio. Construction on the canal began in 1825 and was completed in 1845. It consisted of 19 aqueducts, three guard locks, and 103 canal locks. Each lock measured by and they...

. The Commercial Hospital and Lunatic Asylum of Ohio was the parent institution for the Orphan Asylum, the City Infirmary, the Cincinnati Hospital, and Longview Asylum. Cincinnati Hospital, the main facility, was located along the canal at 12th and Plum Streets, which is now 12th and Central Parkway.

Around 1832 a cholera outbreak in Cincinnati killed 832 people, resulting in a large number of orphans. So to house the orphans the "Cincinnati Orphan Asylum" was built near the corner of 12th and Elm Streets. The Orphan Asylum was a four story building, 64 feet (19.5 m) by 54 feet (16.5 m), which stood for 30 years. In 1837 the Orphan Asylum became known as "the Pest House" after the hospital began using it to isolate people with infectious diseases, and the ground around the building became used as a Potter's Field
Potter's field
A potter's field was an American term for a place for the burial of unknown or indigent people. The expression derives from the Bible, referring to a field used for the extraction of potter's clay, which was useless for agriculture but could be used as a burial site.-Origin:The term comes from...

. Here the hospital buried suicides, strangers, and the indigent and homeless of Cincinnati. Instead of using coffins the person was bundled up and dropped into the ground. At this time the land was still considered on the outskirts of the city.

For the next 20 years the land was used as a "pauper's cemetery" until 1857 when the neighborhood became too central of a location for such uses. Serious complaints from abutting property owners forced the "Pest House" to be relocated outside of the city limits. On January 29, 1859 the property was converted into a park which was known as Elm Street Park. The land and buildings were used for exposition purposes until 1876 when it was turned over to the Music Hall Association. Music Hall would be built on the original location of the "Pest House," and hence the Orphan Asylum. Since the graves of the poor were not marked by tomb stones Music Hall was simply built over top of the graves.

While digging a new elevator shaft in 1988 human bones were exhumed. On the first day workers discovered 88 pounds of bones, and on the following day 119 pounds of bones. There were a total of 19 skulls
Human skull
The human skull is a bony structure, skeleton, that is in the human head and which supports the structures of the face and forms a cavity for the brain.In humans, the adult skull is normally made up of 22 bones...

, at least 60 femur
Femur
The femur , or thigh bone, is the most proximal bone of the leg in tetrapod vertebrates capable of walking or jumping, such as most land mammals, birds, many reptiles such as lizards, and amphibians such as frogs. In vertebrates with four legs such as dogs and horses, the femur is found only in...

s, and while most of the remains were of adults there were also children.

Choir festivals and expositions


Cincinnati's first industrial exposition, which was in 1869, was a great success so the city wanted to have a much larger exposition the following year. At about the same time German musicians had plans to erect "a great temporary building opposite Washington Park" for the North American Saengerbund, which was to be hosted in Cincinnati during the summer of 1870. An agreement was reached so that the building would be shared by the two groups. Depending on its use, the building was sometimes called Exposition Hall or Saengerfest Hall.

Exposition Hall was a huge wooden structure that was 250 feet (76.2 m) long, 100 feet (30.5 m) wide, and 80 feet (24.4 m) tall. Additionally, there were three other temporary buildings attached to it for a total floor space of 108,748 square feet—more than that of the 1853 World's Fair in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. The roof of the building was made of tin. According to legend, a thunderstorm rolled in during a 1875 May Festival
Cincinnati May Festival
The Cincinnati May Festival is a two-week annual choral festival, held during the last two weekends in May in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. The festival's roots go back to the 1840s, when Saengerfests were held in that city, bringing singers from all over the United States and abroad to perform large...

 performance. Rain on the tin roof grew so loud that the chorus was drowned out and the performance had to be stopped. In the audience during that performance was Reuben Springer, a wealthy Cincinnatian, who afterwards decided Cincinnati needed a more permanent structure.

Construction


Springer, influenced by the beneficial results the industrial expositions and musical festivals had on the city, wrote a letter in May 1875 to John Shillito, offering to donate $125,000 under two conditions. The first that the lot be free from taxation, and the second that $125,000 be raised by other citizens. When only $106,000 was raised Springer donated an additional $20,000. From the outset there was conflict between the musical and industrial interests, so Springer offered an additional $50,000 if $100,000 could be raised. This additional sum of money would be used for the construction of buildings around the hall for the purpose of holding industrial expositions. The total cost of Music Hall was $300,962.78 with the exposition wings an additional $146,331.51.

During excavation for Music Hall's foundation there were a lack of police presence as bones were exhumed. Journalist Lafcadio Hearn
Lafcadio Hearn
Patrick Lafcadio Hearn , known also by the Japanese name , was an international writer, known best for his books about Japan, especially his collections of Japanese legends and ghost stories, such as Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things...

 complained, "The crowds gather thickly about the excavation, and watch each new discovery with ghoulish interest. Bone after bone as soon as thrown out is turned over with a scientific application of kicks; ragamuffin
Ragamuffin
The Ragamuffin is a breed of domestic cat that first made its appearance in 1994. Ragamuffins are notable for their friendly personalities and thick, rabbitlike fur.-General description:...

s brandish femora
Femur
The femur , or thigh bone, is the most proximal bone of the leg in tetrapod vertebrates capable of walking or jumping, such as most land mammals, birds, many reptiles such as lizards, and amphibians such as frogs. In vertebrates with four legs such as dogs and horses, the femur is found only in...

 with disgusting exultation; dirty fingers are poked into empty eye sockets; jaw-bones are experimentally hammered with heavy canes; ribs crack in pitiful remonstrance to reckless feet; and tobacco juice is carelessly squirted among the decaying skulls. ... When driven away from one spot they return to another; and by night there come medical students to steal the poor skulls."

According to Hearn, the bones were not treated respectfully by the workers either. He noted, "bones were simply packed into a barrel and stowed away in a convenient part of the building. ... Skulls and thigh bones and vertebrae had been hopelessly jumbled up in that barrel, so that no one save a most expert articulator could have sorted them out properly." The excavated remains were transferred to Spring Grove Cemetery
Spring Grove Cemetery
Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is a nonprofit garden cemetery and arboretum located at 4521 Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the second largest cemetery in the United States and is recognized as a U.S. National Historic Landmark....

.

Completion



The first performance took place on May 14, 1878. An estimated 6,000 saw the opera "Alceste
Alceste (Gluck)
Alceste is an opera by Christoph Willibald Gluck from 1767. The libretto was written by Ranieri de' Calzabigi and based on the play Alcestis by Euripides. The premiere took place in Vienna.-Preface and reforms:...

" by Christoph Willibald Gluck
Christoph Willibald Gluck
Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck was an opera composer of the early classical period. After many years at the Habsburg court at Vienna, Gluck brought about the practical reform of opera's dramaturgical practices that many intellectuals had been campaigning for over the years...

 performed, as well as Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

's "Eroica" symphony
Symphony No. 3 (Beethoven)
Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E flat major , also known as the Eroica , is a landmark musical work marking the full arrival of the composer's "middle-period," a series of unprecedented large scale works of emotional depth and structural rigor.The symphony is widely regarded as a mature...

. The 1880 Democratic National Convention
1880 Democratic National Convention
The Democratic National Convention of 1880 met June 22 to 24 of that year, at the Cincinnati Music Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio. George Hoadly served as temporary chairman and John W. Stevenson served as permanent president. Delegates nominated Winfield S. Hancock of Pennsylvania for President of the...

 was hosted at Music Hall. The Cincinnati Riots of 1884
Cincinnati Riots of 1884
The Cincinnati Riots of 1884, also known as the Cincinnati Courthouse Riots, were caused by public outrage over the decision of a jury to return a verdict of manslaughter in a clear case of murder....

, one of the most destructive riots in American history, began at a protest meeting at Music Hall. The protest got out of hand and 10,000 Cincinnatians marched on the courthouse, outraged over what they believed was a lax and corrupt legal system. A total of 56 people died in the riots.

Paranormal


Various employees of Music Hall have described experiencing strange events in the facility, while others say they've never experienced anything at all. In the 2005 documentary Music Hall: Cincinnati Finds Its Voice, Patricia K. Beggs, the CEO of the Cincinnati Opera, acknowledged, "Ghosts? Um, yes. Indeed, there are Music Hall ghosts." Erich Kunzel
Erich Kunzel
Erich Kunzel, Jr. was an American orchestra conductor. Called the "Prince of Pops" by the Chicago Tribune, he performed with a number of leading pops and symphony orchestras, especially the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra , which he led for over 44 years.-Early life and career:Kunzel was born to...

, late conductor for the Cincinnati Pops, once stated, "Sometimes when I was arranging, getting things together, I've worked here all night long. So I've met these people. They're not in the offices, but when you go out into the house they're there, they're upstairs. ... If you think I'm crazy just come here sometime at three o'clock in the morning. They're very friendly."

Ghosts were first reported before Music Hall was built, after the ground was first excavated for an Exposition Hall elevator. An 1876 newspaper reported, "It does not appear that the ghosts troubled anybody until after a large number of the yellow bones for which they hold a certain spectral affection, had been dug up in making way for the erection of an elevator in Exposition Hall. ... From that hour shadowy people wandered restlessly through the creaking halls by night, hiding in dark corners, stealing behind pillars, and creating queer crepitating noises under the dim roof. The night watchman in charge of the building was greatly annoyed by these mysterious sounds. Whithersoever he went within the edifice by night, the sound of stealthy footsteps followed him; when he stopped they ceased, when he moved again they also followed,—timid feet, invisible, intangible, tireless; and the loose plank that uttered a hollow groan under the watchman's foot, never failed to respond with a gentler moan to the ghostly tread behind. There were strange knockings, too, at all hours of the night—knockings seemingly for admission. But when the door was unbarred and opened, none stood without in the night shadow, nor did the snow in the winter midnights show the print of feet. Sometimes sounds of mocking laughter broke the silence; sometimes strange whispers, faint and thin as whispers falling on the drowsy ears of dying men in the sick rooms; sometimes loud echoes, as of heavy bodies falling in the darkness from the roof to the hollow flooring above the ancient place of graves. Yet no one who ran, lantern in hand, to the place of these inexplicable sounds ever discovered their origin. Dogs brought into the building whined to be let out, and followed their masters with ever sign of abject terror—eye balls wildly protruding, and ears laid back."

The 1876 article described another alleged incident, "One morning, a certain exhibitor beheld a lady standing before his booth—a lady so strange of aspect that he involuntarily regarded her with peculiar curiosity. She seemed tall and fair and young, clad in a pale dress of fashion long-forgotten, and wearing her hair flowing loose, uncovered by hat or bonnet. He approached the white figure, prompted by a desire to catch a glimpse of the features bent over the case, but ready to mask this purpose by politely placing his knowledge of the wares at the stranger's service. But as he stepped forward, the figure became diaphanous, faint, serial, finally invisible, and a chill as of December winds passed over him."

On President's Day of 2003 a box office worker who was alone at Music Hall described several unusual events. He was isolated in the box office, and could not see into the lobby but he had heard strange noises all day. He heard music stand
Music stand
A music stand is a device that holds sheet music in a position that allows the musician to read it while performing.There are various types of music stands. The most common modern type is made of metal and can be folded for ease of transportation...

s, which were in the lobby, being knocked over, but when he checked the stands were still upright. A button to alert him that a customer was at his window was rung several times, but no one was there. (It had snowed the night before but there were no footprints in the snow outside the window.) A while later he heard what sounded like the crystal chandelier
Chandelier
A chandelier is a branched decorative ceiling-mounted light fixture with two or more arms bearing lights. Chandeliers are often ornate, containing dozens of lamps and complex arrays of glass or crystal prisms to illuminate a room with refracted light...

 in the lobby crashing to the floor and shattering. When he investigated the chandelier was still hanging from the ceiling and all seemed well. He heard the sound of the glass doors in the lobby, which lead to the staircases, opening and closing all day long, but he was the only person in the building. Finally, when he could not put it off any longer, he walked down to the rest room by the Critic's Club. As he neared he heard "what sounded like, a party going on inside the Critic's Club. Glasses tinkling, muffled voices, laughter, sounded like a string quartet, except the Critic's Club was locked and the lights were out. I rattled the door and the sound stopped."

Another box office worker also reported having his button buzzed, but no one there. Afterwards he felt a tug on his clothing, although when he turned around he saw an apparition of a boy in nineteenth century clothing. A nightwatchman described hearing footsteps following him on a nearby hardwood floor, but he was walking on carpet and not making any sound. Roger Krebs, a member of the maintenance crew, has heard a piano playing on several occasions only to find the hall empty, seen closed doors suddenly open, and witnessed a floor buffer mysteriously turning itself on and off in the ballroom. Kitty Love, who had worked at Music Hall for twenty-one years acknowledged, "I hear them when I'm on duty alone at night. Footsteps, doors slamming, and music playing, and I know I was the only one in the building."

Other alleged sightings include ghosts in vintage clothing in the ballroom late at night, an extra, unknown "cast member" appearing during an operatic production, unusual looking figures appearing among the audience, the untraceable sound of a music box playing near an elevator, and a small boy asking about a man in the audience of Springer Auditorium when only himself and his father were present.

Neither Marie Gallagher, who has worked there for twenty-five years, nor Ed Vignale, facilities engineer, have experienced anything unusual at Music Hall. Viganle noted that some strange sounds could be attributed to Music Hall's acoustical ability to project sounds.

Music Hall was selected as one of The Travel Channel's Most Terrifying Places in America
Most Terrifying Places in America
Most Terrifying Places in America is an American paranormal documentary television series that premiered on October 9, 2009 on the Travel Channel as a stand alone special. This special was then broken down into a parted series. The series is exactly what its title implies, traveling the country in...

.

See also


External links