The Stanley Theater was built in 1927 at a cost of $3 million and opened on February 27, 1928. It had been one of nation's top live music venues during the big band era of the 1930s and 1940s.
On St. Patrick's Day in 1936, the theater flooded within two feet of the balcony. Several men were trapped for three days until police arrived in a motorboat and rescued them.
With the fading of the big bands the Stanley became a first run movie house from the late 1940s.
Pacific Theaters acquired ownership of the Stanley in 1961 when it purchased several theaters from RKO Stanley Warner. With the growth of the rock movement during the 1960's the Stanley began to host concerts again.
|Wow, Beatles, Beach Boys and Lesley Gore in one show!|
The Pittsburgh based Cinemette Corporation purchased the Stanley in 1973 and gave it a half million dollar face lift. Having an upgraded stage and restored auditorium the Stanley was a more attractive place to hold concerts.
Promoter Rich Engler brought several top acts to the Stanley in the mid 1970s. Engler joined forces with promoter Pat DiCesare and they purchased the Stanley in 1977. DiCesare-Engler Productions quickly turned the Stanley into the top popular music concert hall in the U.S. The Stanley hosted several concerts each week by top rock, jazz, country, and R&B artists and also presented touring Broadway musicals until 1982.
Billboard Magazine named the Stanley Theater the "Number One Auditorium in the U.S." several times during the 1970's and 1980's.
Bob Marley's final concert was here on September 23, 1980.
|Soundcheck 1980, Stanley Theater, Pittsburgh|
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust acquired the Stanley from DiCesare Engler in 1984, spent $43 million on renovations, and relaunched it as the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts in 1987.
Now the home of the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet classical music is now heard in the once great hall of Rock N Roll, the Stanley Theater. During the rock era the colorful story of the Stanley continued with a massive traffic jam, bomb threats and bombings, many great shows and a few historic concerts.(1)
There are over 90 crystal chandeliers, torchieres and sconces in the theater, all but one are original. The Central Brass Company located in Reading, PA refurbished them.
|The Grand Lobby mirrors, marble and woodwork are all original.|
|The signature piece of the Benedum Center is the original main chandelier which weighs 4,700 pounds, is 20 feet high and 12 feet wide. It was restored in honor of the late H.J. Heinz II.|
There are 1,500 feet of brass rail in the theater, most of which is original.
The Stanley was renamed in honor of the Claude Worthington Benedum, whose foundation made the made the largest contribution for theatre remodeling. The new and current name for the Stanley is the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. The Benedum Center opened on Friday, September 25, 1987, The opening event was the show Purely Pittsburgh that featured music by Pittsburgh composers and performers with a Pittsburgh connection.(1)
Jerry performed here on
2/7/69 Early and late shows Grateful Dead
3/19/78 Jerry Garcia Band
11/30/79 Grateful Dead
12/1/79 Grateful Dead
3/5/81 Grateful Dead
3/6/81 Grateful Dead
6/23/82 Jerry Garcia Band
1.)^The Number One Concert Venue in the United States, http://sites.google.com/site/pittsburghmusichistory/pittsburgh-music-story/venues/stanley-theater---rock-era