Graham Memorial Auditorium is an excellent venue for all types of events. It is an active art deco theatre for performing arts, dance, and symphony orchestra music. The auditorium has a proscenium 57 X 36 stage. It offers floor level or balcony seating for 780 people. The auditorium hosts many different type of events from school contests to the Fort Worth Symphony.
Contact Information: Commanda Logan, Auditorium Manager 940.549.3266
Address: 628 3rd Street
GRAHAM MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM HISTORY
In 1922, the Central Community House Committee met in the 1884 courthouse to discuss the idea for a community house to be a memorial for the Young County soldiers who fought in World War I. The purposes of the association were (1) cause the building of a community house in Graham fitting to be a memorial for the veterans and serve public civic needs; (2) raise money, design the building, select the site, employ architects and contractors, and govern the maintaining of the building after completion; (3) possible uses for the building were public library, large auditorium, gymnasium, club rooms for civic organizations, and rest rooms for out-of-town visitors.
On March 15, 1928, a Memorial Auditorium fund raising drive began, and a few days later Mrs. Addie M. Graham, wife of Colonel E. S. Graham, founder of the community, contributed the building site. Mayor A. B. “Gus” Eddleman began receiving contributions from as far away as Guadalupe, California. In December the Board of Trustees accepted preliminary plans and specifications for the proposed building, and in January 1929, detailed plans were submitted by the architects Voelcker & Dixon from Wichita Falls who were also the architects for the Young County Courthouse and the Graham High School on Virginia Street.
A total of $80,000 (over one million in 2015 dollars) was raised for the construction of the building including a contribution from The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Club of $5,000 ($67,864.73). A Steinway piano from the 1884 courthouse was donated for concerts and school programs. The American Legion and other civic groups held meetings in the public library, and the American Legion Auxiliary cooked meals for all club meetings. To the right of the spacious lobby and foyer were offices for the Chamber of Commerce, the Red Cross, and Home and Farm Agents. The Graham Public Library was to the left of the lobby.
In June 1930, citizens gathered for the “Golden Egg” breakfast soliciting donations to furnish the building and raised an additional $50,000 ($678,647.39). The auditorium seated 770 downstairs, 297 in the balcony, and the stage was used for theatre productions, graduations, and basketball games. The basement provided dressing rooms, meeting rooms for YMCA, and a kitchen. Finally, in 1931, a handsome bronze tablet bearing the names of all Young County veterans was donated by Colonel S. R. Crawford, president of the First National Bank.
The Memorial Auditorium has been renovated several times through the years, but the most extensive one was a $2.5 million renovation completed in 2014 with the majority of the funds raised locally through a second “Golden Egg” breakfast and other solicitations. The auditorium continues to provide a valuable service to the community allowing for programs by the Community Concert Association, Graham High School programs, Graham Regional Theatre productions, University Interscholastic League one-act play contests along with many other community and area programs. The Fort Worth Symphony has been performing in the auditorium annually since 1947. The Memorial Auditorium is truly a memorial to the veterans, is treasure to our community, and there is nothing like the architectural beauty of this auditorium in the area!
The continued support from the Kathleen Criswell Gregory Estate, who provided the photos of Concert Association entertainers from the 40’s and 50’s on display in the lobby meeting room, from the Bruce and Virginia Street family, and from the Harry and Jean Bettis estate is deeply appreciated.
Graham Memorial Auditorium Board: Drake Stephens, president; Anne Skipper, secretary; Sidney Brown; Rubyetta Cain, Tom Bailey, Susie White, Brandon Anderson, Jerry McDowell, Diane Cody
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