1849
The North American Saengerbund is organized in Cincinnati.
1870

The Saengerbund Singing Society constructs Saenger Halle at 14th & Elm. Business interests in the city contributed $5,000 toward the construction of the structure, and it was agreed that the building would be used for Cincinnati's first exposition.

This one structure was not big enough to hold all the exhibits and three more were erected just for the expo. They were known as Fine Art Hall, Mechanics' Hall, and Music Hall. A fifth building was used and called Power Hall.

The First Cincinnati Industrial Exposition opened on Wednesday, September 21. More than 300,000 people attended the nearly month-long expo. It was considered such a success that many cities planned to hold their own exposition.

1872
Because of the success of the first two Industrial Expositions, Saengerhalle is enlarged and becomes known as Exposition Hall. The other four buildings are also improved and enlarged, and another structure - Horticultural Hall - is added.
1873

Maria Longworth Nichols and her husband George Ward Nichols organize the first May Musical Festival.

Theodore Thomas conducted the performances in Exposition Hall.

1875

The May Musical Festival presents the American premiere of Bach's Magnificat.

Reuben R. Springer promotes building a new hall in which to present the Musical Festivals. Read the story.

1876

Civic leaders Julius Dexter, W. H. Harrison, T. D. Lincoln, Joseph Longworth, Robert Mitchell, John Shillito and Reuben Springer organize the Music Hall Association to build the new hall.

Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford's firm gets the contract for new Music Hall.

1877

Construction on new Cincinnati Music Hall runs into issues; is fast-tracked after delay.

Reuben Springer offers $10,000 to start Organ Society to build organ for Music Hall; an additional $20,000 is raised.

Work begins on Hook & Hastings organ for Music Hall, with organ screen panels designed by Benn Pitman, Henry Lindley Fry, William Henry Fry, and carved by their mostly-female students.

1878

The "magnificent" Music Hall opens the night of May 14th with the May Festival Chorus and an orchestra of musicians conducted by the renowned Theodore Thomas.

The College of Music opens on October 14 and is housed in Dexter Hall, the top floor of Music Hall.

Theodore Thomas shocks New York society by leaving that city to become the College's first Musical Director.

Construction begins on "wings" to hold Expositions.

1879

Machinery Hall (North Wing) and Art Hall (South Wing) are added to complex, bringing total cost of the entire project to $446,000.

The Seventh Cincinnati Industrial Exposition held in the new Wings.

1880

The Democratic National Convention at Music Hall nominates General Winfield Scott Hancock for President.

Following months of discord, Theodore Thomas resigns as Music Director of the College of Music.

1881
Reuben R. Springer purchases property south of Music Hall for the purpose of constructing a permanent home for the College of Music.
1883
Electric lighting is added  to the Industrial Exposition in Music Hall.
1884

Reuben Springer, philanthropist and benefactor of Music Hall, dies.

In October, The Odeon opens as the new home of the College of Music. This structure houses classrooms, a concert hall, and a two-manual pipe organ.

Courthouse Riot of 1884 begins with a rally at Music Hall. The riot resulted in the deaths of 20 and the burning of the courthouse.

n Opera Festival is held at Music Hall to benefit survivors of the great flood.

1886

Technical School of Cincinnati, predecessor of U.C. College of Engineering, is founded at Music Hall.

The Cincinnati Art Museum opens on May 17 in a newly-constructed building in Eden Park.

1888
Centennial Exposition of the Ohio Valley and Central States celebrates 100th anniversary of the founding of Cincinnati (14th Cincinnati Industrial Exposition).
1895
Contracts are awarded for the reconstruction of Music Hall. The hall is closed in October for extensive renovation following a standing-room-only concert rehearsal by the May Festival Chorus.
1896

Opening night of the Twelfth May Festival marks the formal dedication of the renovated Music Hall.

The remodeled Music Hall is opened to the public on May 14 and is now ready for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which is moving to the hall from Pike's Opera House.

1899
Music Hall jumps on the nation's latest passion and opens a roller skating academy. It's billed as the "Finest Rink in America" featuring a 90x250-foot-maple skating surface and skate rental.
1900
First Cincinnati Fall Festival and Industrial Exposition (continuing to 1923) is held at Music Hall.
1901
The Great Organ is overhauled by J.M. Rimmer, an organ expert from the Hook & Hastings Factory in Boston.
1902
President Theodore Roosevelt speaks to a crowd of over 8,000 in Music Hall Auditorium. His visit
could have ended in catastrophe, as sparks from an electrical wire set a curtain on fire in Mechnical (North) Hall. Exposition attendants put out the fire quickly and very few in the packed auditorium knew about the incident, thus averting a panic.
1904
Composer Richard Strauss conducts the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra at Music Hall.
1905

The mural "Allegory of the Arts," by Arthur Conrad Thomas, is installed in center of ceiling of main auditorium.

Several people attending a concert screamed, panicked and ran to the exits after hearing noise from the roller-skating rink in the adjoining Music Hall building. Ushers calmed the stricken individuals, explained the source, and the patrons returned to their seats.

1910

Ohio Valley Exposition is held in Music Hall, celebrating completion of world's largest movable dam at Fernbank on the Ohio.

William Howard Taft, a Cincinnatian and frequent Music Hall visitor, attends his first May Festival as the nation's President, and dedicates the statue of Theodore Thomas, which is now located in the northeast balcony area.

1912

Springer Auditorium is "refreshed" with the installation of new seating and new electric lights and re-opened in time for the Twentieth Biennial May Festival.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's board moves CSO performances to the recently-completed Emery Auditorium, a more intimate and less expensive venue.

1916
The Ohio Valley Electrical Exposition at Music Hall celebrates the electrical age.
1917
Danceland at Music Hall is unveiled as the "classiest dance palace" in the city. Danceland, which is located in the north wing of Music Hall, opened in mid-to-late November and provided 27,000 square feet for patrons, bands and entertainers. A newspaper ad indicated that, for Thanksgiving weekend, Danceland would be open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
1918
U.S. and Allied Governments' War Exposition is held at Music Hall in December. The exhibit takes up all the space inside Music Hall including the Danceland ballroom.
1922

Due to the dangerous condition of the roofs of the wings, the city's building commissioner orders the north and south wings closed to the public until extensive repairs can be made to bring the entire structure up to city and state building codes. The Cincinnati Music Hall Association denies reports that the wings will be razed.

The Cincinnati Music Hall Association proceeds with remodeling of Music Hall proper, which consists of the installation of an automatic sprinkler system, rewiring, and reconstruction of balcony stairways.

The Chamber of Commerce floats the idea of Music Hall to be part of the proposed civic center. The area for the center also would include the Odeon, YMCA, Washington Park and Memorial Hall, and extend as far back as 12th and Central.

A campaign is undertaken to finance reconstruction of the Great Organ.

1923

"Modernization" of the original auditorium organ marks the beginning of the end for grand old instrument.

On Wednesday, August 29, at the Cincinnati Fall Festival, marriage vows were exchanged in Music Hall before a nearly packed house. The wedding, which was carried by radio to guests throughout the country, featured eight groomsmen and 18 bridesmaids.

The opening of Danceland's fall dancing season is delayed while improvements are made to the north wing of Music Hall.

1925

Music Hall is transformed into a 15th century cathedral setting for Max Reinhardt's medieval spectacle, The Miracle.

Debris accumulated for several years and stored throughout both wings—including old rags, paint cans, pieces of wood, broken chairs, old signs, etc.—leads the city to declare the wings as a fire hazard. The complaint was lodged by the Chamber of Commerce, the top tenant of the Music Hall wings. Exhibitors who felt the situation was dangerous had made comments to the COC. Reports indicate that debris, which was moved by mid-May, was primarily discarded parts of the old organ. Reports indicate those parts included panels of black walnut and other expensive woods. However, due to the condition of the roofs, both wings remain closed to the public.

1926

In December, general plans for renovation of Music Hall are drawn up. $600,000 worth of improvements are planned, including:

  • transforming the north wing into a sports arena that could be converted into an exposition hall
  • the south wing would be renovated to contain an exposition hall and a hall for dances, dinners and conventions
  • installing new seats and painting Springer Auditorium
  • the addition of new, rear, street-level entrances.

As the city had invested a considerable amount in constructing Central Parkway, those entrances were identified as the new "front entry" of Music Hall.

1927

On the 26th of May, the City of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Music Hall Association enter into an agreement whereby, for the sum of one dollar ($1.00), CMHA will own and, within three years, remodel Cincinnati Music Hall.

Despite the condition of the wings' roofs, the annual Auto Show was held in mid January in both wings. In addition, the stage of Music Hall is transformed into a dance floor complete with orchestras, with dancing every afternoon and evening until the show closed.

Work begins mid-year on improvements for the North and South Wings, including new floors and roofs. While digging under the south wing, 65 graves were discovered. John D. Powell of the American Wrecking & Salvage Company states that, with city approval, he will provide a coffin and re-inter them in that location.

On October 11, the College of Music unveils a new three-story office and studio building and achieves the largest student enrollment in its history.

1928

Renovation is complete and Music Hall celebrates its 50th anniversary with Golden Jubilee celebration.

On October 3, the newly remodeled hall was dedicated during the Greater Cincinnati Industrial Exposition. In an address to all attending, Robert A. Taft, VP of the Cincinnati Music Hall Association, said that as soon as funding is available, the main auditorium will be redecorated and improved with new seats, and that the dressing rooms would be renovated. Taft also expressed hope that the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra would return to Music Hall.

On January 25, on the second floor of the south wing of Music Hall, the Greystone Ballroom opened. It is billed as the nation's largest ballroom and Anthony E. Scheffer is announced as the Greystone's managing director.

1929

1929 Thomas Alva Edison is honored at Music Hall and throughout the nation on the 50th anniversary
of the invention of the lightbulb. "Light's Golden Jubilee" was the theme for the Cincinnati Edison Exposition.

The Expo  featured tributes, exhibits, ceremonies and speakers honoring Edison, an Ohio native.

Music Hall was decorated with lights of all kinds, including a spectacular electrical fountain on Elm Street, in front of the building.

While Mr. Edison was invited to attend, he sent his regrets and "best wishes for the success of your exposition and program."

A concert is held at Music Hall to celebrate the anniversary of the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts—now Cincinnati ArtsWave—which was founded in 1927 by Mr. and Mrs. Charles P. and Anna Sinton Taft.

1931
Society of American Florists and Ornamental Horticulturists hold National Flower and Garden Show.
1935

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra returns to Music Hall.

The Greystone Ballroom celebrates its 7th birthday in January. There are dances and shows in the ballroom until mid year, when two announcements were made.

  • the lease and equipment of Greystone Ballroom was purchased by the Music Hall Association
  • in early July, Music Hall manager John Behle announced that, in order to increase revenue, Music Hall would feature more and varied events.

The ballroom was then remodeled and, on October 5, opened as the new Trianon Ballroom.

The Cincinnati Realtors' Home Show and Garden Exposition at Music Hall, held April 20-28, features a model home! The house is constructed in the north wing and includes open wall sections to show expo visitors how plumbing, wiring, and other usually-hidden features work.

On May 27, 2 days after the May Festival ends, the Cincinnati Municipal and Industrial Exposition opens at Music Hall and runs through June 9.

1936
The Trianon Ballroom is redecorated with a motif of a giant land-bound airship and was renamed the Dirigible of Dance, where, according to advertising, "dancing is like floating on air."
1937

Music Hall is almost razed.

In May, the Music Hall Bondowners' Protective Committee initiates action to foreclose on the $736,000 mortgage on Music Hall. The Cincinnati Music Hall Association had made only part of one payment in the previous four years - even though the building had been operated ''without deficit'' since 1932.

CMHA cited the financial crisis that had gripped the nation since 1929 as reason for not making payments.

Reports on inspections made by the city and state claimed that the structure was a fire hazard due to wiring issues and serious dust hazards. All involved agreed that an independent survey would determine Music Hall's fate.

Music Hall serves as a clothing depot for the Red Cross, and as a central warehouse for food supplies, to aid families affected by the 1937 flood.

The Music Hall ballroom is leased by Topper Amusement Company and, in September, opens as the Topper Ballroom.

1939
The Music Hall Association files for reorganization under the Bankruptcy Act.
1941

Miami Valley Industry and Defense Exposition is held, furthering the regional effort in World War II.

In September, the City of Cincinnati acquires title and responsibility for Music Hall complex for $222,500.

1946
University of Cincinnati Bearcats basketball joins wrestling and boxing for three seasons in North Wing as the three sports held in Music Hall arena on a regular basis.
1951
During the holidays, Music Hall is used as a parcel post center.
1952

General Dwight D. Eisenhower appears at Music Hall as the Republican nominee for president.

The Cincinnati Music Hall Association announces Music Hall will be renovated.

1953
The World Premiere of ''Taming of the Shrew'' brings opera back to Music Hall.
1954

Music Hall re-opens in September following three years of repairs and improvements, including redecoration of Springer auditorium and the foyer.

Plans begin for a convention hall which would be linked to Music Hall.

WCET, the nation's first licensed educational TV station, debuts from Dexter Hall (third floor of Music Hall).

1959
Topper Club's Egyptian decor gives way to Hawaiian theme, including world's largest color photomural showing Diamond Head above Waikiki.
1964

The Corbett Foundation led by J. Ralph Corbett and Patricia Corbett donates rebuilding of backstage area--leading off series of major improvements in Music Hall financed by Corbett donations in next 30 years.

City planners start work on a new convention center.

1969
The Corbett Foundation finances major renovations in Music Hall, which will take 5 years to complete. Phase I begins this year.
1970

Music Hall is added to National Register of Historic Places.

Exterior of building is sandblasted using 400 tons of sand over 60 days.

1972
The Corbett Foundation finances Phase II of Music Hall renovations, including new scenery shop and set storage area for opera and ballet. This sets the stage (pun intended) for the Cincinnati Summer Opera to move from the Cincinnati Zoo to Music Hall.
1973
Volunteer Music Hall Guides start giving tours of building.
1974
The decrepit original Hook Hastings instrument is dismantled and parts are sold or given away. This will make room for the new Baldwin electronic "wave form" organ, a gift from The Corbett Foundation.
1975

A parking garage is completed to the west of the building—a gift from Corbett Foundation—with a skywalk across Central Parkway connecting into Music Hall.

Music Hall is designated a National Historic Landmark.

1978

Music Hall celebrates its 100th anniversary with Centennial Saengerfest.

The U.S. Postal Service issues a commemorative Music Hall historic preservation postcard. The postcard was designed by Cincinnati artist and illustrator Clinton Orlemann and was the second issued in the U.S. Postal Service's Historic Preservation series.

1984
The Critic's Club opens off main foyer, as gift of The Corbett Foundation and the Cincinnati Music Hall Association.
1985
Architectural lighting is installed for exterior of Music Hall, as gift of Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson.
1987
Jean Ries, the Executive Director of the Corbett Foundation; Joyce Van Wye, subscription manager for Cincinnati Opera; philanthropist and arts supporter Louise Dieterle Nippert; and longtime CSO and arts volunteer Norma Petersen meet to discuss what could be done to raise money for needed improvements in Music Hall. The group grows, and evolves into The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall (SPMH).
1992

Music Hall Association merges to form Cincinnati Arts Association for joint management of Music Hall, Memorial Hall and new Aronoff Center for the Arts.

The Cincinnati Music Hall Association merges with the newly-formed Cincinnati Arts Association to provide for a common Board of Trustees and management of Music Hall.

The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall receives the 501(c)(3) designation and is formally established as a volunteer support organization to help preserve, improve, promote and provide education for Music Hall.

The Corbett Foundation replaces seating in Springer Auditorium of Music Hall.

1994
Corbett Foundation finances refurbishing of Corbett Tower.
1996
President Bill Clinton speaks at Music Hall. President Clinton, then in the midst of a re-election campaign, is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police for his longtime support of law enforcement.
1998

American Classical Music Hall of Fame installs inaugural laureates in gala at Music Hall, commemorating 120 years of classical music tradition in this historic building.

Music Hall Ballroom (originally the old Topper Club) enjoys major transformation into an elegant state-of-the-art, multi-purpose ballroom and meeting facility.

1999
The Music Hall Timeline, created with a donation provided to SPMH by Louise Dieterle Nippert, is installed in a west corridor of Music Hall.
2003

The 125th Anniversary of Cincinnati's historic Music Hall is celebrated in grand style.

In the north wing, construction begins on the new headquarters for the Cincinnati Opera. This necessitates moving the Cincinnati Arts Association's Music Hall staff to offices on the second floor of the south wing.

2004
In October, the Cincinnati Opera moves into the its new headquarters, the Corbett Opera Center.
2005

On January 13, the Corbett Opera Center is officially dedicated. The Center, is named for long-time Cincinnati arts patrons J. Ralph and Patricia Corbett. The Corbett Foundation provided a $1.5 million lead grant for the project, as did the City of Cincinnati.

On May 25, the documentary Music Hall: Cincinnati Finds Its Voice premieres on CET, public television. The 90-minute program was conceived and funded by the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall, and produced by CET, in cooperation with SPMH and the Cincinnati Museum Center's Historical Society Library. The documentary is awarded a regional Emmy and is a finalist for a Post-Corbett Award.

2007
Following several years of effort on the part of Society for the Preservation of Music Hall president Norma Petersen, it is announced that the Mighty Wurlitzer organ—which was originally created for Cincinnati's Albee Theatre—would be refurbished and installed in Music Hall's Ballroom, where a number of pieces from the Albee decorate the hall.
2009
The Albee Mighty Wurlitzer Organ Dedication is dedicated in a standing-room-only concert on Saturday, November 28th.
2010
The Music Hall Revitalization Committee is formed to oversee needed structural improvements to Music Hall. The design architect is chosen and a fundraising consulting and management firm is hired.
2012

The Music Hall Revitalization Committee holds public sessions on the plan to renovate Music Hall. now slated to begin in spring of 2013. Public meetings are held in January in which hundreds voice their disapproval of the plans, in particular those that remove the chandelier from the auditorium and reduce seating.

Cincinnati icon and philanthropist Louise Nippert dies just shy of her 101st birthday. Mrs. Nippert was devoted to the arts and was a generous supporter of music and Music Hall in Cincinnati. She was also one of the initial Trustees of SPMH.

President Barack Obama attends the first town hall meeting of the 2012 campaign season, held in the Music Hall Ballroom.

In December, the City of Cincinnati and the Music Hall Revitalization Company (MHRC) reach an agreement on a lease of the building, with an eye to easing the work needed to fund renovation of the structure. Under the agreement, MHRC will lease the building for 75 years, and pay all operating and maintenance expenses.

2013

The first LumenoCity event is held in renovated Washington Park, on August 3 and 4, and Louis Langrée is introduced as the new music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The event, which also featured the Cincinnati Pops led by John Morris Russell, was created by Cincinnati-based Brave Berlin, featured a specially-designed lightshow on the facade of Music Hall and is an overwhelming success, drawing 35,000 people.

The Music Hall Revitalization Company announces it will partner with 3CDC (Cincinnati Center City Development Company) for the renovation work on Music Hall, with 3CDC acting as project manager.

A revised timeline for the revitalization is developed, with work targeted to start in June 2016.

2014

In June, the National Trust for Historic Preservation adds Music Hall to its list of America's 11 most endangered historic places.

Hamilton County Commissioners decide that funding for Music Hall's revitalization will not be included in a proposed "Icon Tax" levy.

The MHRC redoubles its efforts to find new funding for the project.

The year closes out with good news, as the State of Ohio awards Music Hall with a one-time historic tax credit totalling $25 million.

2015

Fundraising for the revitalization of Music Hall is given a huge boost, with a $10 million gift from the Lindner family.

Phase I structural work is completed over the summer.

A new design team and an acoustics firm are announced for the project, which is now estimated to run $129 million. The design team is comprised of two architectural firms: Martinez + Johnson Architecture, a Washington, DC, firm, and Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel, Pittsburgh. Messer Construction is hired as construction manager.

Music Hall Resident Companies—Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, May Festival, Cincinnati Opera, Music Hall management staff and SPMH—pack up everything in order to vacate Music Hall by the end of the year.

The task for the CSO includes packing up the the 140-year-old orchestra library and moving all music to a temporary home at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County's main brand downtown.

2016

Performances continue in Music Hall's Springer Auditorium through May. Meanwhile there's construction work during the day.

In January, the SPMH Board of Directors votes to gift the renovation campaign with $3 million, made possible by the Corbett Foundation.

The Music Hall Revitalization Project is now estimated to cost $135 million.

In February, the design concept for a revitalized Music Hall is publicly revealed.

In March, work under the stage uncovered skeletons. The remains were identified as human, and respectfully moved to a final resting place in Spring Grove Cemetery, along with many bones uncovered during previous construction work.

In May, the final "pre-construction" SPMH Wurlitzer Concert is held in the ballroom.

After the final May Festival performance on Saturday, May 28, Music Hall is officially closed for renovation. A work session is held Sunday, May 29, to remove hundreds of seats donated to the Sorg Opera House in Middletown.

At the SPMH Annual Meeting on September 13, held off-site for the first time the organization's history, Stephen Leeper, 3CDC's President and Chief Executive Officer, details for SPMH members the work that is underway. Leeper also details expected revisions in design for Corbett Tower, the specific beneficiary of the SPMH donation toward Music Hall's renovation.

2017

Periodic "hard-hat tours" are conducted for employees of Resident Companies. These tours are halted at the end of May, in order to ensure a "wow" element when Music Hall re-opens.

By mid-year, SPMH estimates the organization's contribution to the revitalization of Music Hall has grown to over $5 million! Following the opening, SPMH will continue to work with the MHRC to repair or replace architectural details that have been lost or removed over the years, in order to restore Music Hall's façade to its original design.

ArtsWave receives a grant to hold a celebration for the re-opening of Music Hall. Included in the day-long activities are an open house at Music Hall with performances in different areas; events at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company's new Otto M. Budig Theater, which is a block south of Music Hall; next door neighbor Memorial Hall, which reopened earlier in the year after extensive renovations; and Washington Park.

Friday, October 6, at 10am - a ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opens Music Hall.

Saturday, October 7, at 10am - the doors open to the public for an open house event at Music Hall.