The Great Auditorium
About the Great Auditorium
The Great Auditorium was constructed in 1894. The wooden building rests on bridge-like iron trusses laid on stone foundations. It features numerous "barn door" entrances with colored glass, dormers, and panels that open for ventilation. Originally the Auditorium could accommodate an audience of almost 10,000, before many sections of smaller, wooden seats were replaced in later years with cushioned, theater-style seating having armrests; at present it can seat 6,250 persons.
The Auditorium's acoustics, resulting from its barrel-vaulted wooden ceiling, have been widely acclaimed; famed conductor Leonard Bernstein once compared it to Carnegie Hall. In the days before electronic amplification, this allowed a preacher to be heard throughout the vast space. The building still features lighting systems quite advanced for their time, such as the parallel rows of incandescent bulbs that adorn the varnished wood ceiling paneling. Also novel is a large American flag (c. 1916) covered with light bulbs that flash in an undulating manner. Illuminated signs, possibly some of the oldest surviving of that type, flanking the organ's pipe work, proclaim "Holiness to the Lord" and "So be ye holy," a reflection of the emphasis at camp meetings, along with the illuminated Memorial Cross, placed on the Auditorium's front facade at the end of World War II.