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Severance Hall nearing completion of restoration, August 1999
Severance Hall nearing completion of restoration Photo: Roger Mastroianni, August 1999

Cleveland Orchestra: Reopening at Severance Hall

From the day Severance Hall opened in 1931, it has helped make the Cleveland Orchestra into a great ensemble. As one of the first concert halls designed and built with radio broadcasting capability, it carried the name and sound of Cleveland across the country. Following the completion of a two-year, $36.7 million restoration and expansion, Severance Hall reopened for a gala performance on January 8, 2000.

Founded in 1918, the Cleveland Orchestra has been led by some of the greatest music directors, and has become a world acclaimed symphonic orchestra. Its permanent home, Severance Hall, built by Cleveland philanthropist John Long Severance, provided it with a superior space for rehearsing and performing.

During music director George Szell's tenure (1946-1970), the orchestra achieved artistic stature and lengthened its season. The orchestra has continued to prosper under the musical direction of Christoph von Dohnányi, who assumed the post in 1984. His contract extends to year 2002, when Franz Welser-Möst will become the orchestra's seventh music director.

Severance Hall was designed with a Georgian exterior to harmonize with the classical architecture of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Its interior rooms reflect a harmonious eclecticism. Design elements have united and tied together the diverse styles of art deco, French nouveau, classicism, Egyptian revival, and modernism. The hall's restoration, by David M. Schwarz Architectural Services of Washington, D.C., has preserved its original detailing, while enhancing its acoustics, and restoring its magnificent 6,025 pipe organ. The building has been recognized by local and national preservation societies, including the Cleveland Landmarks Commission and the National Register of the Historic Places.

Documentation includes a brief text history, a program book from the reopening gala, a newspaper supplement about the reopening; and a video.

Originally submitted by: George V. Voinovich, Senator.



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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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