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St. Cecilia Building

St. Cecilia Building

GRHC - January 27th, 2014

A small group of nine women were responsible for the construction, in 1893, of the St. Cecilia building, dedicated to the purpose of music.


The building at 24 Ransom Street is unique in all of the United States. It was the only building devoted solely to the purpose of music, built and run by women. Constructed in 1893 by an organization only ten years old, it was remarkable that a group of nine women could accomplish so much. Architect Henry Ives Cobb of Chicago designed the large two-story auditorium building.

It is a quiet, dignified Italian Renaissance style with a center entrance. A half-stairway leads up to a large foyer. At the south end is the main stairway leading up to a ballroom. Grand Rapids artist Frederick Church designed a memorial window at the landing, which was executed by the Tiffany Studio. At the front of the foyer was an office, formerly the library, with leaded glass windows and a corner fireplace. The north front was a studio used for smaller recitals.

The main auditorium contained 695 theater seats on raised flooring. Originally the ballroom floor served as a balcony without fixed seats. From the beginning the auditorium suffered from poor acoustics. The Engineering Department of the University of Michigan analyzed the hall and specified absorption material, which was included in a remodeling by local architects Rindge and Rindge, in 1926.

Quite fittingly, in 1899, St. Cecilia was home to the annual National Women’s Suffrage Convention. In 1999 it was the setting of the 100th year celebration of that important event.

Full Details

TitleSt. Cecilia Building
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; music; St. Cecilia; auditorium
Pubdate StringJanuary 27th, 2014

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