City Auditorium re-named to honor arts patron Thalia Mara
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - If someone told you, “Meet me at the City Auditorium,” would you know where to go?
It’s still there today, but it’s called something different.
The new Jackson Municipal Auditorium opened on Pascagoula Street downtown on the 30th of March in 1968.
Metropolitan Opera star Eleanor Steber was there to cut the ribbon at a lavish grand-opening ceremony - with Jackson Mayor Allen Thompson, Governor John Bell Williams, and other city and state officials looking on.
The new venue had fountains out front and seating for more than two-thousand people.
In 1979, it became the American home of the USA International Ballet Competition thanks to the efforts of Thalia Mara, an accomplished dancer and performer who came here from New York in the mid-’70s to take over the Jackson Ballet.
“I forsaw it as an opportunity to create an atmosphere in Jackson for the arts to flourish,” she said.
In 1994, the city council voted to put her name on the auditorium, and it’s been Thalia Mara Hall ever since.
“I’m very sensitive of the honor that has been bestowed on me,” Mara stated, “and I’m rather overwhelmed.”
After Mara died in 2003, her body lay in repose inside the hall that bears her name.
It’s still the city’s official auditorium, just as it was when it was formally dedicated more than 55 years ago.
Thalia Mara Hall replaced the original city auditorium, which opened in 1923 on Pearl Street.
It was torn down in 1970 to make way for the Capital Towers building, which still stands on the site today.
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