Chicago's Auditorium Theatre holds open house to celebrate 130th birthday

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The doors of Chicago's national landmark in the Loop, the Auditorium Theatre, are open for an open house to celebrate its 130th birthday.

It's a grand and mysterious building that has seen its share of drama and history.

Some of the paint may be peeling in places and some of the seats may need a bit of work, but that's always the case with anything as grand as Chicago's Auditorium Theatre. It's set to welcome the Joffrey Ballet's Nutcracker for a holiday run, the latest in several lifetimes of iconic shows and stars that have graced the global stage.

In the coming weeks it will host "Too Hot to Handel," a jazz-gospel rendition of Handel's "Messiah," and Chance the Rapper.

At its opening in 1889 the Auditorium Theatre was America's biggest building and Chicago's tallest. Visitors enjoying free tours Monday saw the designs of Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler showcased as never before. Restorers discovered stencils on the arches from the original design and construction.

At 130 years old, you can imagine how much it takes to keep the beautiful building looking as good as it did in 1889. There have been three major renovations over that time, and the theater was even closed from 1945 to 1967. Restoration remains a challenge today.

"They haven't been done it in a while but being able to move these huge panels by hand, seeing the machinery up there it was incredible," said Allen Gebala.

The open house is a thank you to Chicago for more than a century of support, and also a chance to reach a new audience.
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