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The Kiel Auditorium (1934 – 1992)

 - John Edwards

The Henry W. Kiel Municipal Auditorium (AKA Kiel Auditorium) was a St. Louis landmark for its 58 years of existence at 15th and Market Streets. This month, instead of carrying on about booking, workrate, Dusty finishes, and title matches that actually “meant” something, I will step back and take a look at the building that (at least to me) was the heart and soul of the St. Louis NWA promotion. 

First, some background: Who was Henry W. Kiel? Here are some facts about the three term former mayor of St. Louis: 

Henry W. Kiel (1871-1942) -- also known as "Father of the Municipal Opera" -- of St. Louis, Mo. Born February 21, 1871. Mayor of St. Louis, Mo., 1913-25. The Municipal Auditorium in St. Louis was named for him. Died, from complications of a stroke, November 26, 1942. Entombed in mausoleum at Oak Grove Cemetery, St. Louis County, Mo. 

Some thoughts from Harley Race, participant in some of the Kiel’s greatest matches: 

“The Kiel wound up being and was for many years before me, and to say I was a part of the Kiel in era means a lot to me.” 

And, a few words on the shiny new plastic building that replaced the concrete, wood, and steel of the “Old Kiel”:

The Kiel Center

The ultra-modern Kiel Center rests on the former site of Kiel Auditorium, built in 1932 as a municipal auditorium for the citizens of St. Louis. Designed by St. Louis architects Louis LaBeaume and Eugene S. Klein, Kiel Auditorium encompassed the adjacent Kiel Opera House and served St. Louis for six decades as a center for conventions, public meetings, expositions, sports events and musical performances.

According to a 1934 mayoral proclamation, Kiel Auditorium was "designed to enrich the peoples' lives and increase their enjoyment and ... add to the attractiveness and popularity of our City as it will bring to us great conventions and cultural activities." Originally known as the Municipal Auditorium, Kiel Auditorium was officially named in honor of former St. Louis mayor Henry W. Kiel on March 26, 1943. Kiel, a strong supporter of the arts, had encouraged the idea of a municipal auditorium and helped that concept become a reality. More...

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