Originally built in 1914, Macky is an historic building, and underwent a major renovation in 1986, making it one of the premiere concert halls on the front range.
It's a bit of a mystery as to why Joseph Macky left his fortune with the University of Colorado.
The Boulder pioneer -- lured away from New York by the Pikes Peak Gold Rush -- lacked a university education and had no official ties to CU. But one local lore is that a football game where Nebraska badly beat the Buffaloes tugged his heart and purse strings, spurring the donation that eventually led to the construction of Macky Auditorium.
Over its 100-year-history, the building's concert hall has hosted musical artists including Harry Belafonte, Dave Matthews and Tori Amos. Macky has featured talks by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
It's also been the stage of some more obscure happenings.
"It's a timeless building," said Rudy Betancourt, director of the Macky Auditorium Concert Hall.
|Photo courtesy of Richard Finkelstein.|
A delayed building
In 1905, Andrew Macky traveled on a train to Lincoln, Neb., for the rival football game between the Buffs and the Cornhuskers. He joined about 500 others from Boulder in the trip.
Macky, the founder of the First National Bank, led a game-day parade. And, he was greatly impressed with the school spirit shown by CU fans, despite the game's outcome: Nebraska 18, Colorado 0, according to Patty Kuster, with CU's Heritage Museum.
In 1907, Macky bequeathed $300,000 to the university for the auditorium.
Observers believe the "road trip" to Nebraska could have inspired his gift.
University history also explains that the gift could be a result of heavy lobbying by Macky's friend, then-CU President James H. Baker.
A newspaper account of the donation explained that he was an advocate of higher education, despite not going to college himself.
"His generous gift to the university was, in itself, evidence that he was among those rare persons who are willing to give their all that others might enjoy privileges that they had been denied," the article said.
The building broke ground in 1909, and CU celebrated a cornerstone ceremony on Oct. 8, 1910.
But the building took 13 years to construct because Macky's adopted daughter, May, sued when she found that nothing was left to her in the will. Against Macky's wishes, she had married a man named John Rooney and gave up her claim to the estate.
The litigation lasted years. In the meantime, structures popped up on campus like the geology building and the Sibell Wolle building, which, before it was demolished, was the academic space for engineers and then fine art students.
Macky became the 14th building to be constructed on the campus, according to Kuster.
The auditorium's guest book has some famous names living in it.
The eclectic mix includes former U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader; poet Allen Ginsberg; astronaut Scott Carpenter; Minister Louis Farrakhan and Evil Knievel.
Other notable moments in Macky's history include an adventure in 1953 when someone made it to the top of the towers, by climbing the walls without any equipment.
|This crowd, inside and out, awaits Eleanor Roosevelt for her speech on April 18, 1955|
In 1969, Students for a Democratic Society rioted at a lecture by S. I. Hayakawa, throwing lighted cigarettes, folding chairs and a bottle at him. Hayakawa was an English professor at San Francisco State College and served as president of the school before he was elected as a U.S. senator. At the California school, students for the Democratic Society demanded an end to racism, creation of an ethnic studies department and end to Vietnam. Hayakawa pulled wires out from speakers on a student van during a rally, causing a dramatic disruption.
In 1971, several hundred unruly CU students attempted to crash a sold-out Neil Young concert, breaking the glass in the foyer doors, and fighting off police armed with firehoses, according to CU archives.
The building -- which resembles a large castle -- has become the No. 1 tourist attraction on campus, according to Betancourt, the facility's director.
Macky Auditorium is a stop for the Banjo Billy bus, which offers tours of Boulder as a guide divulges local ghost stories. In the summer of 1966, CU student Elaura Jaquette was murdered by a university custodian in an organ recital room in Macky.
The urban legend that guides share with tourists is that Macky is haunted and organ music can mysteriously be heard playing on its own. Maybe this is why:
|The Bulletin, August 9, 1966|
The university this summer dug up a time capsule that was planted a century ago, but ambiguous directions to the capsule turned into a treasure hunt that lasted a week.
The capsule is a copper box welded with metal and will be opened by dignitaries in October, and the items will go on public display in Macky.
A document that catalogues its contents says it includes copies of newspapers, including The Denver Post, Daily Camera and the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News and Silver and Gold Record. It also contains a picture of Andrew Macky and a copy of his will; a university catalogue; commencement address from 1910 and a drawing of the building.
Present-day Macky contains four of its 35 original organs.
The building is now home to CU's College of Music and Artist Series and the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra. It also houses the jazz department, choir department and CU's Center for the American West.(1)
2006, BOULDER, Colo. - Singer Annie Lennox fled the stage when a man wearing a gas mask and cape appeared in the crowd towards the end of her set at Macky Auditorium on Tuesday. She wrote on her blog, "Unfortunately an incident took place towards the end of the set that really shook me up. And believe me..in the 30 years I've been performing, I'm not that easily shaken. The security at the hall were extremely lax, and Mr. "Nightmare on Elm Street "( or whatever weird thing was going on in his head) should never have been allowed to get anywhere near. Trust me...it wasn't nice."(2)
Jerry performed here on
3/16/75 early and late shows Legion Of Mary
11/23/75 Jerry Garcia Band
7/2/82 early and late John Kahn (acoustic)
1.)^Anas, Brittany, Daily Camera, CU-Boulder's Macky Auditorium to celebrate its 100-year anniversary, 2010-09-05
2.)^James, Cyndi, Concert Shock: Annie Lennox Flees Stage From "Freddy Kruger", 2007-10-19, http://www.nationalledger.com/pop-culture-news/concert-shock-annie-lennox-fl-445089.shtml
3.)^Doligosa, Felix Jr., In memory of Lauri, 2006-10-14, Rocky Mountain News