It is exhilarating to see The Auditorium at The Douglass once again come to life with music and events.
Last week, the auditorium was packed for a sold-out concert with Jeff Tweedy of the alternative rock band Wilco. One of the interesting details about this concert was how it occurred. The Jones Assembly, another outstanding concert venue in Oklahoma City, reached out to see if they could host the show at The Auditorium. When tickets went on sale, the 700-plus seat auditorium was sold out in minutes. In February, The Ambassadors’ Concert Choir performed “Songs of Struggle, Dear Mrs. Parks” in the auditorium and increasingly the space is being rented for events, socials, weddings and community meetings.
Until a couple of years ago it was hard to imagine that the grand auditorium would once again be a vibrant event center. The Auditorium, 600 N. High Ave., is part of the historic restoration of the former Page Woodson school. Originally built in 1910 as Lowell School, the school was renamed Frederick Douglass High School in 1933 when it became the only all-black high school in Oklahoma City during segregation. Many well-known artists including Duke Ellington, Jimmy Rushing, Charlie Christian and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ralph Ellison performed in the auditorium. In 1954, the school was again renamed Page Woodson as an elementary school and when the school closed its doors in 1993 the building sat abandoned and neglected for the next two decades.
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