Marion Oliver McCaw Hall (Photo: Perry Cooper)
Marion Oliver McCaw Hall was unveiled to the public on June 28, 2003. A triumph of artistic vision, environmental stewardship and organizational cooperation, McCaw Hall is a civic asset like no other. As a technically superb performance facility, McCaw Hall has taken a place among the great halls of the world. As a beautiful, accessible and welcoming addition to Seattle's arts auditoriums, McCaw Hall is essential to the livelihood of two major performing arts organizations and a priceless gift to our entire community.
The creation of McCaw Hall has helped to secure the future of Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle Opera. The hall also provides a destination for many other international, community and cultural groups that will perform on its stage as part of Bumbershoot, Northwest Folklife and Seattle International Children's Festival, all part of Seattle Center's tradition of diverse programming.
As extraordinary as the arts organizations that inhabit it, Marion Oliver McCaw Hall represents a total transformation of the 75-year old civic auditorium/opera house, and is located on a site that in one form or another has nurtured Seattle's vibrant arts culture since the 1880's. In 1881, a saloon owner left his personal fortune of $20,000 to the pioneer city to build a hall that would hold community gatherings of a civic and artistic nature. It took nearly 40 years, but with public support and a gift of land, the City opened the Civic Auditorium in 1927, promising that it would forever enable "high or low, rich or poor to gather here to nourish their souls with the best of music and the wonder of pageantry."
The Civic Auditorium did indeed fulfill that early promise for more than seven decades, but with only a new exterior façade and minimal interior upgrades for the 1962 World's Fair, the old facility had endured almost unchanged since its creation in 1927. By the start of the new millennium, the strain of intensive use and millions of visitors were painfully evident.
Marion Oliver McCaw Hall replaced a facility that was seismically unstable and suffering from a deteriorating infrastructure, cramped spaces, poorly operating technical systems, functional limitations and lack of true accessibility for many visitors and artists. Now that it is open, this spectacular venue meets the needs of today's public, patrons and performers with the finest aesthetic, artistic, and technical accoutrementsnot to mention full seismic safety and full accessibility.