Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium - Shreveport, Louisiana
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
Assisted by: Groundspeak Regular Member boB B giB
N 32° 30.463 W 093° 45.194
15S E 429246 N 3596964
Quick Description: Built as a memorial to those who served in the Great War, the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium, AKA "The Municipal", is the venue where Elvis got his start.
Location: Louisiana, United States
Date Posted: 5/10/2018 12:25:21 AM
Waymark Code: WMY8F3
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 2
Created From:
 Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium - Shreveport, Louisiana - posted by boB B giB

Long Description:
While a memorial to the veterans of the Great War and a superior example of Art Deco architecture, it seems that "The Municipal's" major claim to fame is as the first venue in which Elvis performed publicly, this coming about on October 16th, 1954. The building was dedicated to the Soldiers of the Great War on Veterans’ Day, then known as Armistice Day, November 11, 1929.

In the frieze over the entrance are inscribed the words DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO SERVED IN THE WORLD WAR, attesting to its status as a war memorial. Above those words are a line of stylized motifs in brick and limestone, providing just a taste of the art Deco styling to be found on "The Municipal". A more elaborate description, from the NRHP Nomination Form:

The exterior is a tour de force of intricately worked brick and carved limestone. Although the facade is of course the most elaborate, all elevations are richly detailed. Many of the copious corners and angles of the building are enlivened with vertical reeding formed by protruding brick corners. Protruding bricks are also used to create numerous luxuriant decorative bands and quoins. Limestone is used to accent the parapets, windows and principal entrances.

The central five bays of the facade have ornamentally carved limestone balconies and quoin piers which rise to a massive brick and limestone parapet. This parapet features alternating arabesque panels elaborately picked out and embellished with motifs too numerous to mention. The parapet culminates in a carved limestone frieze with a strong rhythmic pattern of exaggerated chevrons. The crowning auditorium space has its own parapet with nine bands of brick in an emphatic alternating chevron pattern. The building is so intensively ornamented that even the tiny spaces between the brackets supporting the balconies feature stylized motifs.

The central five bay portion of the facade is flanked by two massive bas relief eagles clutching stylized swords which hold limestone banners with inscriptions. One reads " The world must be made safe for democracy. Woodrow Wilson" and the other, "The work of righteousness shall be peace. Isaiah 37:17."

A central frieze bears the inscription "DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO SERVED IN THE WORLD WAR." These inscriptions bespeak the auditorium's dedicated purpose as a monument and memorial to the veterans of World War I.

History of the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium

Located just west of Downtown Shreveport, lies one of Shreveport’s most treasured buildings. Built in the 1920s, it is noted for its intricate brickwork and lavish interior and has been coined the finest example of Art Deco construction in the State of Louisiana. Designed by noted architect, Samuel Weiner, the building was dedicated to the Soldiers of the Great War on Veterans’ Day, then known as Armistice Day, November 11, 1929. In its early years, the auditorium played host to the military by serving as barracks for the troops and housing the early aircraft warning system more commonly known as Radar.

On April 3, 1948, a new program named, The Louisiana Hayride, began a weekly showcase of talented singers, songwriters and performers. Little did anyone realize the impact that would be made from the stage of Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium. The Louisiana Hayride became known as The Cradle of the Stars, because so many international stars began their careers on this program. Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, are just a few of the acts that went on to stardom after performing on The Louisiana Hayride. Perhaps the most prominent performer to begin his career on the stage made his performance debut October 16th, 1954. That is when the world was introduced to Elvis Presley!

Elvis was signed to a contract to perform every Saturday night on the Hayride for $18 a show. Colonel Tom Parker “discovered” this phenomenal talent and bought his contract for $10,000 dollars after 18 months, but without a doubt, it is on the stage of Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium that Elvis developed the techniques that launched his career into stardom. The audiences averaged around 2,000 per show and for a while, The Hayride was nationally broadcast on CBS radio and became a staple of Armed Forces Radio programming. Although the weekly programming ended in 1960, the Hayride was regularly scheduled through the 60s.

Many African American musicians played at the Municipal Auditorium as well. Blues musician Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, originally from Shreveport-Bossier, became well-known for his song “Good Night Irene”. Other influential African American musicians who have played at the Municipal Auditorium include James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Bobbie “Blue” Bland and B.B. King. Music still rings from the stage of the historic Municipal Auditorium. The former home of the Louisiana Hayride, today, is host to a variety of events that interest the entire community, which include, sporting events, touring acts, live local concerts, and family shows. Shreveport Municipal Auditorium was recently named a National Historic Landmark.
From The Municipal

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