After the fire of 1892, which destroyed Academic Hall, a new building was built just south of that site. In 1922 it was renamed Jesse Hall in honor of Richard H. Jesse, the University President until 1908. The west wing housed the library, and the east wing housed an Auditorium for “entertainment and erudition.” The Auditorium, as it was called prior to 1922, served many purposes on the campus. It played host to everything from spirit rallies to lectures to debates to theatrical productions. Many well-known orators of the day lectured here, including William Jennings Bryan (January 13, 1900) and Amelia Earhart (October 17, 1936).
In the 1950s, shortly after condemning the balcony due to concerns about the wooden timbers, the fire marshal advised the University to come up with a better plan. The result is the Auditorium we know today, which is not only the largest performance venue at the University of Missouri, but also the largest in Columbia. The Auditorium attracts first class performers including Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Charles, Emmylou Harris, and Maya Angelou, just to name a few. The Auditorium hosts more than 200 events a year, many of which are presented by University academic, staff & student groups.
Jesse Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65201, USA