The New Powell Hall

Powell Hall in the Grand Center Arts District began as the St. Louis Theater in 1925 and was a stage for vaudeville acts and movie productions. It was one of the 400 theaters build by the influential Chicago firm Rapp & Rapp, and was constructed in the French Baroque style. But it’s not just a pretty face. Since 1968, it has been the home of The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO). The acoustics of the hall are world renowned and performers have fallen in love with playing there.  

Our story really starts in the 1960s when the hall as it's known today was born. It is named after William S. Powell, a former president of the US Figure Skating Association and Director of The Brown Shoe Company. He loved The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, opera, and ballet. Sadly, in 1966, he and the U.S. World Team were killed in a plane accident on their way to the World Championships for the Olympic Winter Games. His wife Helen Lamb Porter donated one million dollars to the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in order to support the purchase and restoration of Powell Hall in his honor. Other supporters included the Ford Foundation and Oscar Johnson Jr. The highest degree of professionals were brought in for the restoration and that is why it’s said that the hall ranks with Carnegie Hall in New York and Symphony Hall in Boston. The renovated hall and first permanent home of SLSO opened in 1968. 

Image of Powell Hall circa 1968

Powell Hall is again transforming. In 2023, construction began on an expansion project to bring Powell Hall into the future. In 2025, just in time for 100th Birthday of Powell Hall, it will reopen as a newly updated venue. The hall itself will remain largely the same however a beautiful new lobby will bring Powell Hall into the modern era. In total, 65,000 sq feet will be added to the hall. 

There will be many more visitor features, new seats for better viewing, more restrooms, concession areas and elevators. There will be new amenities like an added cafe and terrace. And while those things will be wonderful, the SLSO is also providing more spaces that will bring togetherness and collaboration with the community. 

Historic image and project rendering courtesy of SLSO 

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