Sarasota Municipal Auditorium History

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Sarasota Municipal Auditorium

Updated on 01/30/2019 11:30 AM

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“In 1936, the City of Sarasota acquired approximately 40 acres of land for a Bayfront civic center.  It was located just south of 10th Street and between North Tamiami Trail and the bay.  Mayor E. A. Smith announced plans to construct "one of the finest recreation centers in the South” on the property.”  – Sarasota History Alive

 Built in 1938, its Art Deco and Moderne design is a community landmark.  Designed by Chicago architect, Thomas Reed Martin and Clarence A. Martin, the auditorium has become a focal point for Sarasota’s cultural scene as well.  During World War II, the auditorium served as the Army and Navy Club for Sarasota’s service men and women.  Throughout our history, the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium has hosted the Florida West Coast Symphony, Sarasota Youth Orchestra’s Debutante Ball, the Miss Florida pageant, and countless area high school homecomings and proms.  Prior to the Van Wezel opening, the SMA was the premier concert hall and showcased a variety of musical performances from Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong to “Earth, Wind, &Fire.”

 Listed with the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, it is frequented by more than 100,000 visitors annually.  Historically renovated in 1994, the hardwood maple floors and 39’ tall ceiling provide great acoustics and the right atmosphere for any event or activity.  From seminars, trade shows, and business meetings to weddings, concerts and banquets, the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium helps make every event a memorable success.

"The Municipal Auditorium is one of less than a handful of Art Deco gems left in Sarasota.  It was built by the people, for the people with funding from President Roosevelt’s Work Progress Administration program in 1937.  The auditorium played a role in lifting Sarasota out of the Great Depression, and continues to serves us through good times and bad as a center for both commerce and entertainment."

Lee Gaines

Creative Director

Sarasota History Alive!