Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

182 N. Central Ave.

National or State Register of Historic Places
182 N. Central Ave. | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Richland Center City Auditorium
Reference Number:80000182
Location (Address):182 N. Central Ave.
City/Village:Richland Center
Richland Center City Auditorium
182 North Central Avenue, Richland Center, Richland County
Architect: Percy D. Bentley
Date of construction: 1912

The Richland Center City Auditorium was the first auditorium erected and operated by a Wisconsin municipality after a change in state law enabled cities to build and operate income-generating properties. In its first twelve months the auditorium held 51 meetings and events, from which the city took in a $2000 profit. The local chapter of the Federated Women¿s Clubs successfully promoted a referendum to fund its construction as part a larger social reform platform. This same group was active in women's issues statewide and had lobbied the State Legislature for a change to the state statutes permitting its construction.

The building is an example of the multipurpose municipal building. The front of the building contains the offices of city officials. A large meeting and recreation room is located on the third floor and the club room for the Women¿s Clubs is in the basement. The remainder of the building is given over to a 900 seat auditorium with a large stage, and twelve dressing rooms.

The auditorium hosted numerous and varied programs: Lyceum lectures, minstrel shows, public meetings, plays, commencement exercises, and concerts. Until the growth of movie theaters, the auditorium also showed motion pictures. Among the noted speakers who addressed the citizens of the Richland Center were William Jennings Bryant and William Howard Taft.

La Crosse architect, Percy Bentley, designed the auditorium building. Bentley is best known for his Prairie School residences in Wisconsin and Minnesota. In this example, Bentley relied on a classical vocabulary, employing a three part organization to the façade, tall pilasters capped with Ionic capitals, and a projecting cornice.

The City Auditorium building continues to be the seat of city government and is open during regular business hours and for special events.

Period of Significance:1900-1924
Area of Significance:Politics/Government
Area of Significance:Social History
Applicable Criteria:Event
Historic Use:Social: Civic
Historic Use:Government: City Hall
Historic Use:Recreation And Culture: Auditorium
Historic Use:Social: Meeting Hall
Architectural Style:No Style Listed
Resource Type:Building
Architect:Bentley,Percey D.
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
National Register Listing Date:08/18/1980
State Register Listing Date:01/01/1989
Number of Contributing Buildings:1
Number of Contributing Sites:0
Number of Contributing Structures:0
Number of Contributing Objects:0
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:0
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:0
Number of Non-Contributing Objects:0
National Register and State Register of Historic Places, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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