History

Constructed in 1931, the recently renovated and restored auditorium is one of the largest auditorium facilities in a wide region of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. Memorial Auditorium creates an intimate performing arts experience in the 735 seat, classic art deco performance center, owned and operated by the City of Worthington. Memorial Auditorium is located in the heart of Worthington's historic central district. In 1932, the Auditorium was originally "gifted to future generations that those lives lost defending our cultural heritage would not be forgotten." There have been many memorable performances at Memorial Auditorium. Actor Hal Holbrook performed one of his first "Evenings with Mark Twain" on the Auditorium's historic stage. Cedric Adams, beloved Minnesota personality, performed a live broadcast from the Auditorium to a capacity audience.

From the beginning, the community shared the Auditorium with the public schools. Memorial Auditorium was an addition to the school district complex that housed the Junior High, High School and Community College students. The Auditorium was the site of basketball games and tournaments, class plays and musicals, gymnastics exhibitions, band and choir concerts, community worship services and commencements. In 1982, the remaining buildings left on site were scheduled for demolition. Worthington citizens pulled together and voted to preserve the Auditorium and its history. The renovated facility became municipal property but was still shared by the school district and the community. At that time, the Auditorium was re-dedicated to the veterans of all wars.

Performers that have graced the Auditorium stage include local artists from all walks of life, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Minnesota Opera and Minnesota Orchestra, Irish Rovers & Cherish the Ladies, Blind Boys of Alabama, Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir, Koresh Dance Company, Peking Acrobats, Vienna Boys Choir, Ball In The House, Pavlo, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, school groups throughout the area, and so many more incredible artists.

Projects at the Auditorium have included the recent renovation completed in 2011, restoration of the 1906 Steinway Series B-7ft grand piano, facade restoration, upgrades to sound and lighting equipment, padding and upholstery of 735 seats.

The Friends of the Auditorium, inc. are a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to engage in and conduct, as the Board of Directors determines, various activities for the benefit of the Worthington Memorial Auditorium facility, and to promote the wider use of the facility for the cultural enhancement of the community. Their purpose is to engage volunteers in supporting the Auditorium and to promote community economic development through the arts. The Friends organization was organized in 1982 as a result of a bond referendum vote to save the Auditorium from being demolished. In 1993, the Friends reorganized, ratified their by-laws, and incorporated as a non-profit organization with the state of Minnesota.

The Friends of the Auditorium, Inc. operate as a board of directors who strive to provide leadership, quality programming, policy decisions, educational and fiscal responsibility. Members are chosen through a nomination and election process that reflects the abilities of community members. The Friends meet monthly and their work is accomplished through community volunteers and part-time staff. The goals of the Friends are to provide a common meeting ground at Memorial Auditorium, to advocate for the arts, and to offer a variety of quality, educational, and entertaining performing arts including dance, general music, musical theater and theater for young people. The Friends produce three Hometown Showcase performances each season, featuring local and regional volunteer talent. They also present a Great Entertainer series, underwriting artists from around the world. Each season the Friends present the Missoula Children's Theatre for a week long residency that includes auditions, rehearsals and performances for students grades 1-12.