Built at a cost of $2,225,000, the Masonic Temple of Rochester, NY laid its cornerstone in 1928, and was dedicated on May 24th, 1930 with much fanfare including a parade through the city. The building consisted of offices and several ceremonial meeting rooms for the Masons, a fraternal organization, as well as one large 3,000 seat auditorium, now known as the Auditorium Theatre.
|Masonic Temple, Rochester, NY|
|Masonic Temple, Rochester, NY|
|Auditorium Theater, Rochester, NY entrance|
From the beginning, the Auditorium Theatre was the site of many touring productions, featuring some of the biggest names in the entertainment business.
Dramatic productions, musical concerts, and comedy revues took place over the years.
|Buddy Holly January 19, 1958 Auditorium Theater, Rochester, NY|
|Buddy Holly in the parking lot outside the Auditorium Theater, Rochester, NY January 19, 1958|
|Little Feat, 1975 Auditorium Theater, Rochester, NY|
|Pink Floyd, Auditorium Theater, Rochester, NY|
The Theatre Organ
The Auditorium Theatre is the home of a magnificent Wurlitzer 4/23 (opus 1951) theatre organ. The console rises from the orchestra pit, and the sound of 1,619 pipes, trumpets, clarinet, saxophone, drums, shimmering strings or marimbas emanates from the filigreed proscenium arch surrounding the main stage. The Rochester Theatre Organ Society (RTOS) was originally formed to rescue this organ from the luxurious downtown RKO Palace Theater, just before that 2916-seat luxurious 1928 movie house fell to the wrecking ball of urban renewal in the mid-1960s. Theatre organs were traditionally used to provide musical accompaniment to silent movies. RTOS stages several concert performances of the mighty Wurlitzer each year by many of the world's great organists.
|Organ at Pit Level Auditorium Theater, Rochester, NY|
|Auditorium Theater, Rochester, NY Wurlitzer Organ|
With the possible exception of the entertainment on screen or on stage, the excitement of the historic theaters and movie palaces was expressed most eloquently in dramatically molded ornamental plaster walls and ceilings. Ceilings of the outer lobbies are fine examples of the plaster work common to this type of building.
|Auditorium Theater, Rochester, NY Lobby|
|Box Office Auditorium Theater, Rochester, NY|
|Auditorium Theater, Rochester, NY|
So, what's up with the squirrels?
One of the most puzzling secrets of the building centers on a fascination with squirrels. During construction of the building, the ornamental plasterer apparently felt the need to add a bit of whimsy by including several images of squirrels and acorns throughout. Squirrels appear above the building's front door, while bird, grapevine and acorn motifs can be found in the plaster work on the walls in some meeting rooms.
But look closely — the most striking example is on the ceiling of the Auditorium. The plasterer has skillfully incorporated 64 squirrels into the symmetry of the massive ceiling.
"The real reason for the squirrels can be traced back to Freemasonry. The symbol was highly revered and quite secret. It was one of which the lodge could have gone by at the time as its secret name. The meaning of the squirrel to Freemasons can be traced back to YGDRASIL. This is a name given to a mythologic symbol that is the greatest of all trees in nature. The tree is a symbol of the bind between earth and heaven and hell. This tree sends out three main roots (3 is a highly sacred number to Freemasons). There is a story that derives from Scandinavian mythology that includes the squirrel and the reasons to why it was upheld as such a sacred object and symbol to the Masons. The story states that the squirrel would gather its nuts (the acorns found in the building, representing the deeds one does in life being either good or bad) and the squirrel then travels either upward or downward along the tree depending on the nature of the acorn being good or bad. Up represents the heavens, down, hell.
The name given to the squirrel in this form of mythology is Ratatoskr.
The squirrel is thus a metaphor for the members of the congregation or society of Freemasons. What you do in life, you shall reap what you sew. This is a common theme of the masons."
In 1957, an all volunteer, not-for-profit group calling itself Rochester Broadway Theatre League (RBTL) was formed to bring such productions to Rochester.
Sold to Saucke Bros. Construction in 1989, the building was converted to office spaces as well as large and small meeting rooms and banquet halls available for rent by the public, and re-named Auditorium Center.
In the summer of 2003, RBTL undertook a major renovation to the Auditorium that included the replacement of all of the theater's seats (now totaling 2,464), new carpeting throughout, upgrades to existing bathrooms, as well as the addition of new bathroom facilities on the lower level. At the same time, RBTL relocated its business offices and Box Office to the building.
Now known as the Rochester Broadway Theatre.
Jerry performed here on
11/17/74 Merl Saunders
I: Think, Finders Keepers;Second That Emotion;You Can Leave Your Hat On;It's Too Late; Let It Rock;Going Going Gone
II: Tough Mama>Wondering Why;People Make The World Go Round;Neighbor Neighbor; Sitting In Limbo;Mystery Train
10/25/75 Jerry Garcia Band
II: It's No Use;Catfish John;That's What Love Will Make You Do;Positively 4th Street;Tore Up Over You;Mystery Train;Edward The Mad Shirt Grinder
3/10/78 Jerry Garcia Band
I: The Harder They Come;Mission In The Rain;Russian Lullaby;Second That Emotion; Mystery Train
II: Love In The Afternoon;They Love Each Other;Tore Up Over You;Simple Twist Of Fate; I'll Be With Thee;The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Encore: Midnight Moonlight
1,859 tickets sold.
6/30/82 early and late shows John Kahn (acoustic)
(Early) Deep Elem Blues, Friend Of The Devil, Dire Wolf, Little Sadie, Valerie, To Lay Me Down, Run For The Roses
(Late) Gomorrah;I've Been All Around This World;Bird Song;Jack-A-Roe;Oh Babe It Ain't No Lie;Ripple
Encore:Rubin And Cherise
Promoter John Scher Presents.
5/26/83 Jerry Garcia Band
I: How Sweet It Is;I'll Take A Melody;Second That Emotion;Gomorrah;Run For The Roses
II:Rhapsody In Red;Love In The Afternoon;The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down;Deal
11/27/84 John Kahn (acoustic)
(Early) Deep Elem Blues;Little Sadie;I've Been All Around This World;It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry;Run For The Roses;Simple Twist Of Fate;Goodnight Irene Encore:Ripple
(Late) I: Deep Elem Blues;Friend Of The Devil;Dire Wolf;When I Paint My Masterpiece;Jack-A-Roe;Run For The Roses
II:Rubin And Cherise;Gomorrah;Peggy-O;Bird Song;Goodnight Irene
Robert Hunter opened.
Promoter John Scher Presents.
4.)^Anonymous, comment, 2015-05-13, Auditorium Theater, 885 East Main St., Rochester, NY, http://jerrygarciasbrokendownpalaces.blogspot.com/2011/09/auditorium-theater-885-east-main-st.html