Having lost the Grand Opera House to fire in the 1920s, the citizens of Lexington and Lafayette County were without a centerpiece for classical entertainment until the construction of their new facility in 1939. The Lexington Auditorium represents a rare WPA project in this area. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Auditorium sits on the southeast corner of Lafayette County’s historic Courthouse Square.
Constructed of buff-colored brick, the auditorium’s form is basic and geometric. Its design elements, including a curved entrance portico with illuminated glass block sidelights, entry stone with modernist relief lettering and geometric foliage, and its International style windows all add up to a simply beautiful and graceful Art Deco Streamline Modern exterior. The design of the interior is likewise geometric and utilitarian, with Art Deco details in its theater seats.
The overall condition of the Municipal Auditorium is quite good and the building is in active use for its original purpose. Its walls are solid and stable, the windows and doorways square and trimmed on the interior with birch and fir millwork in the original finish. Upgrading its facilities, including energy retrofit, addition of air conditioning and providing for handicap accessibility would ensure the building continues in its role as a central point and hub for community activities, entertainment and fellowship.
It is feared that the Auditorium building will be demolished for the construction of a parking lot for the adjacent Lafayette County Jail.
Update: The non-profit Lexington Auditorium Association was formed and the City of Lexington has recently agreed to grant them a 99-year lease. After it is passed into ordinance on April 10, 2012, a major donor campaign will be kicked off, utilizing the State’s Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) Credits. The building will be retrofitted to meet ADA requirements and the auditorium returned to its original purpose, hosting both private and civic functions.