Public Meeting Set On Future Of Memorial Auditorium

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Memorial & Tivoli Advisory Board of Directors and the City of Chattanooga Department of Education, Arts & Culture (EAC) will hold a meeting moderated by WRCB Channel 3's Antwan Harris in the inner lobby of Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium next Tuesday at 10 a.m.

The meeting will be open to the public and will focus upon the past and future of the City's civic facilities. Members of the City Council, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium Steering Committee, and the general public are invited and encouraged to attend and share ideas and suggestions for the future of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium.

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium opened in 1924, built by the City of Chattanooga as a living memorial to veterans of the First World War, the cornerstone reads November 11, 1922--Veteran's Day, making the historic significance of the building even more important. Following renovations in the 1980s the building was dedicated on Jan. 31, 1991 to veterans of all wars. The Tivoli Theatre, a private venue until 1960 when it was rescued by the City from demolition, is an historic venue and home to many performances and civic ceremonies. Both buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Administrator Missy Crutchfield said, "Visionary architect R.H. Hunt, known for designing historic landmarks across Chattanooga, intended for Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium to remind future generations that wars between nations can be prevented by building trust in our communities. This trust endures when we join together in public space, and ensuring such civic trust is the business of government and the duty of all of us as citizens."

U.S. Myers, Memorial & Tivoli Advisory Board Chair said, "In 1918 The Kiwanis Club of Chattanooga proposed the building of an auditorium as a living Memorial to Hamilton County's Fallen Veterans of World War I. And I am sure they were estatic with its completion in 1924. We should be thankful for the vision and action of the people of Chattanooga in 1918. We are thankful for those who came later. The late Honorable Mayor Robert Kirk Walker and his wife Joy; Past Mayor Pat Rose; and many veterans, foundations, and other citizens were persistent in the renovation of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium. The Auditorium and "The Jewel of the South" Tivoli Theatre, which opened in 1921, are "two gems" for Chattanooga in the 20th century. The Memorial Auditorium's large seating capacity, the Austin Pipe Organ (another "gem"), the Community Theatre and the space for large and/or small events has attracted thousands of people to our city through the years. Multi-stay touring shows, regional and national competitions, and all other events have an economic impact by generating income for local business and the city. The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium and Tivoli Theatre have stood the test of time. My desire is for the community to realize the importance of these two facilities and keep them for future generations to enjoy."

Jim Bailiff, co-chair of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium Steering Committee, said, "Imagine Chattanooga without Missionary Ridge, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium, the Walnut Street Bridge, the 20th Century Waterfront, Point Park on Lookout Mountain, and one has just another pretty town in the mountains of Appalachia. These special things and more are in the public trust, meaning they would be gone without the financial support of the people. Just as the Aquarium ignited a fire under all of us that we have something the rest of the country doesn't, so the citizens of greater Hamilton County are waking up to the treasure we have in our local venues: the Tivoli and Memorial Auditorium. The many facets in our beautiful city work together as a whole and the tourist's dollars and relocating industries are proof that we are moving in the right direction. I am grateful for people with vision that can see and appreciate all that Chattanooga has to offer, and the world is sitting up and taking notice."

Evelyn Gibbs, Chattanooga Music Club secretary general, said "Thousands of people from the surrounding area have benefited from the use of the building and have enjoyed programs it has provided, from the youngest school child to the aging Veterans. It is a Memorial that few other cities can boast and must remain as a city-owned Memorial, owned by the citizens of Chattanooga, not to be commercialized by a profit-making company."

Rear Admiral Vance H. Fry, U. S. Navy (Retired), co-chair of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium Steering Committee, said, "The Chattanooga Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium was built 90 years ago to honor area military Veterans. It serves today as our Veterans Memorial Park. This city has been known for decades for its patriotic heritage. It is our duty and privilege to continue to say thank you to all who have worn the uniform in defense of the United States. To lease or sell our Memorial to a commercial company is unacceptable and would make our city the laughingstock of the country."

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