McCaw Hall

  (Redirected from Seattle Opera House)

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall (often abbreviated to McCaw Hall) is a performing arts hall in Seattle, Washington, United States. Located on the grounds of Seattle Center and owned by the city of Seattle, McCaw Hall's two principal tenants are the Seattle Opera and Pacific Northwest Ballet. The building is named for Marion Oliver McCaw, whose four sons donated $20 million to fund a major renovation in 2003. It was formerly known as the Civic Auditorium and Seattle Opera House.

Marion Oliver McCaw Hall
McCaw Hall Kreielsheimer Promenade.JPG
McCaw Hall at Seattle Center in 2013
Former namesSeattle Opera House
Civic Auditorium
Address321 Mercer Street
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Coordinates47°37′26″N 122°21′04″W / 47.624°N 122.351°W / 47.624; -122.351Coordinates: 47°37′26″N 122°21′04″W / 47.624°N 122.351°W / 47.624; -122.351
OwnerCity of Seattle
TypeConcert hall
OpenedMay 18, 1928 (original)
April 21, 1962
June 28, 2003
Construction cost$90 million [1][2]


Seattle Civic Auditorium, 1954
Interior of McCaw Hall in 2007
Dreaming in Color, a Three-Dimensional Color Field by Leni Schwendinger

The building originally opened in 1928 as the Civic Auditorium. Its construction was funded by a donation from Seattle saloon owner James Osborne and a voter-approved municipal bond issue; the site was donated to the city by David Denny, one of the members of the Denny Party credited with founding the city of Seattle. The auditorium became the home of the Seattle Symphony and also hosted several touring shows. In 1956, voters passed another bond measure to fund expansion of the Civic Auditorium for use as a venue in the upcoming World's Fair. Construction began in 1959, and the auditorium reopened as the Seattle Opera House on April 21, 1962 – the opening day of the World's Fair – with a Seattle Symphony performance featuring Igor Stravinsky as a guest conductor and Van Cliburn as a guest soloist.[3]

The Opera House hosted several performances during the World's Fair, including live telecasts of The Ed Sullivan Show, a science fiction panel discussion featuring Ray Bradbury and Rod Serling, as well as multiple concerts and dance performances featuring acts from around the world. The Seattle Opera company was founded in 1963 and held its first season in the Opera House in 1964. Pacific Northwest Ballet was founded in 1972 and held its first season in the Opera House in 1973. Seattle Symphony held its final concert in the Opera House on June 30, 1998, and moved to the newly completed Benaroya Hall soon after.[3]

In 1999, voters passed a bond measure to fund another major renovation to the Opera House. The "most dramatic" renovation and expansion of the Opera House began in 2002.[3] Cell phone pioneer Craig McCaw along with his three brothers donated $20 million to help fund construction and as a result the newly renovated building was named Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, after their mother.[4] LMN Architects oversaw the renovation and McCaw Hall opened in late June 2003.


  1. ^ Overview of the facility on
  2. ^ Architectural Record account of the facility
  3. ^ a b c "History of McCaw Hall on". McCaw Hall. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  4. ^ Bargreen, Melinda (22 June 2003). "McCaws downplay their $20 million donation". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 19 December 2012.

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