Shreveport Municipal Auditorium
People who enjoyed the performing arts while alive, continue to do so as spirits.
When tragedy strikes, spirits can linger…
The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium has achieved the rare honor of being listed on not only National Register of Historic Places, National Register of Historical Landmarks but also being one of the reasons for Shreveport to receive the honor of being listed as the Shreveport Commercial Historic District(#82002760)
It is renown for its fantastic Art Deco / Modernism architecture and its performing arts history; being named the best example of Art Deco in northern Louisiana.
Besides being recognized as a fantastic example of Art Deco and Modernism style of architecture, the beloved Shreveport Municipal Auditorium has been the ultimate community/civic center that offers space for many kinds of social and cultural activities and conventions as well. It was built to last for centuries and to be relevant for many years to come. Today, it still is very active; making great use of its huge auditorium for stage, musical performances, tours of all kinds; visiting mediums, sports events and family shows,etc.
The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium is aptly described on the NRHP registration form.
“The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium is a five story civic center containing an auditorium, a ballroom, offices, and exhibition space. The building has been altered very little since construction and even retains its original exterior and interior light fixtures.”
Besides having very practical yet beautiful, lavish decor in the inside of this magnificent building, it is a beautifully striking on the outside as well. On our 2019 road trip, Tom and I visited Shreveport, and were mighty impressed with this outside presentation of this grand auditorium.
The 3,200 seat Shreveport Municipal Auditorium is a beauty. Its design and construction was inspired by the honor to be a monument of thanks to WW1 soldiers; dead and alive. “It is constructed of brick and limestone and features intensive Modernistic styling.”
The outside decor is impressive! “The exterior is a tour de force of intricately worked brick and carved limestone.”
Indeed! Human craftsmanship and creativity is truly showcased here. I never seen more intricate use of brick and limestone to create such beautiful outside designs, with intricate brick work, windows with limestone lining around.
Across the upper half of the front of the building, states who it is dedicated to in stone;in memory of the brave men of WW1.
In front of the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium are two bronze statues of a famous musician and an American Icon who got their start here; Elvis Presley and talented guitarist James Burton.
In 1927, the Mayor of Shreveport; Lee Emmett Thomas and the City Council of Shreveport decided that the town needed a civic center for activities for the public and private events. They came up with the idea of building it in memory WW1 soldiers. They hired local designing group; Roessle, Olschner & Wiener. Architects Samuel G. Wiener, Sr., and Seymour Van Os came up with the inspiring design worthy of a memorial building. A Shreveport Contractor for construction of this memorial auditorium was the Ashton Glassell Company. Between the two entities, they did a fantastic job!
Since the day it opened, the Municipal Auditorium was a favorite; first among the local folks for performance tours, shows of all kinds, culture events, high school graduations, films, social and business events, and anything else needing a space to offer activities. It became the main source of entertainment on a Saturday night.
During World War 2, The Shreveport Municipal auditorium did its part. It was used as a temporary barracks for soldiers.
After the end of WW2, it took only one very popular show to expand the listenership to all of America where country music was loved. The most beloved, nationally known show that introduced up and coming southern country music artists was the widely popular “The Louisiana Hayride” that was heard live on radio; on KWKH, as well as being live at The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium that had 3,800 seats.
The stage and radio show premiered at 8:00 p.m. on April 3rd, 1948 in Shreveport’s Municipal Memorial Auditorium, a venue capable of holding a huge audience. With the exception of a one-hour segment in which network obligations took precedent, KWKH broadcast the entire three-hour show. The inaugural performers included the Bailes Brothers; the Four Deacons; Johnny and Jack and the Tennessee Mountain Boys, with Miss Kitty Wells; Curley Kinsey and the Tennessee Ridge Runners;Harmie Smith and the Ozark Mountaineers; Pappy Covington’s band; the Mercer Brothers; and Tex Grimsley and the Texas Playboy.
The Louisiana Hayride was Louisiana’s answer to Tennessee’s Grand Old Oprey. The different musical cultures of Shreveport came together and the people bought tickets; 60 cents for adults, 30 cents for kids to hear a variety of Southern Country Music.
The Louisiana Hayride played a major role in the music’s continuing evolution and its increasing popularity in the years following World War II. According to Hank Williams, Jr., “The Hayride…did a lot to refine and redefine what was then called ‘hillbilly’ music and make it a respected part of America’s musical culture.”
Its popularity spread to other states. Shreveport was “becoming the folk music center of the Southwest.”
Country music enthusiasts from East Texas and southern Arkansas joined folks from Shreveport and western Louisiana to enjoy the show live in the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium.
In 1950, twenty-seven other radio stations in Louisiana,Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas joined Louisiana Hayride Network that broadcasted the first 30 minutes of the Hayride show.
In 1953, TV CBS Network was the first big radio station that broadcasted country music, with an hour long weekly country music showcase called “‘Saturday Night— CountryStyle.’ Six country music shows scattered across the country from West Virginia to Texas . The Louisiana Hayride was one of the six and was heard in a thirty-minute segment every third Saturday over the network, coast-to-coast.”
After this development, even Armed Forces Radio got into the act, broadcasting weekly a 30 minute segment.
A lot of country artists got their start here. “Future stars could learn to read an audience, perfect their styles, and gain confidence in their performing skills. the program gave struggling newcomers a modicum of economic security in a difficult business. The weekly Saturday programs gave them an income they could count on and left them free to book other shows during the week.
An unknown Hank Williams got exposure and a way to boost his confidence by performing in front of audiences who loved him for a ten month stint.”
“The Hayride was a star maker. It built hundreds of careers in country music – more than any other show of its kind. All told, it produced about two dozen of the [twentieth] century’s premier country music artists.”( Hank Williams Jr).
Hank Williams got his start here. He gained confidence in his music and his ability and developed a large fan support, before becoming a huge country star.
Another truck driver/singer also got his start here, singing rockabilly;(combination of rock and hill billy music), Elvis Presley. He had an ii month stint of performing here. the audience became younger, as his music appealed also to the younger generation.
While the weekly programing ended in 1960, the Hayride was regularly scheduled through the 60s.
The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium was color blind when it came to giving all artists, including African Americans a chance to perform here. “Blues musician Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, originally from Shreveport-Bossier, became well-known for his song “Good Night Irene”. Other influential African American musicians who have played at the Municipal Auditorium include James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Bobbie “Blue” Bland and B.B. King.”
Since the 1960s’, this well-maintained , beloved Shreveport Municipal Auditorium was/is still an active source of the performing arts, concerts, sports events, social events like graduations, and anything that the folks of Shreveport and the surrounding communities love and desire.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
For a variety of reasons the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium is considered one of the most haunted buildings in northern Louisiana. One of their very successful events is The Haunted Municipal Tour during the month of October; a 90 minute tour.
The full paranormal sports package exists here. Except for one spirit, there are several theories as to where the spirits who reside/visit here still like to stay here.
Buildings used as morgues sometimes have a few spirits who decide to stay there, perhaps not wanting to accept that they have died. The basement of The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium used its basement as a temporary morgue during the days of The Louisiana Hayride performing stage show days.
Places of strong negative emotional settings can draw spirits back to relive their unpleasant life experiences where they died or suffered painful losses. Perhaps they are trying to have the outcome be different if they relive it… A woman suffered terribly trying to give birth to her baby in the basement bathroom. She may have died in the process or the baby may not of survived her efforts. Something tragic happened in that bathroom.
People who enjoyed the performing arts while alive, continue to do so as spirits. Many people while alive enjoyed the music performances that took place here. Some may have chosen to visit and see more entertainment.
The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium is right across the street from The Oakland Cemetery, that is filled with the remains of folks who enjoy music and the performing arts.
While some spirits are unknown, 3 spirits have been seen and made known…
There are spirits here that no one knows who they are, they don’t physically show themselves, but they are noticed by the living.
Audible, disembodied voices are heard inside the Auditorium and in the basement. Sounds of a woman moaning and weeping in the basement bathroom.
Doors opening and closing by themselves; door that overlooks the foyer will open and shut on its own.
Unseen forces move people around.
Touches on the shoulder when no one living or visible is there…
Spirit known as Sarge
This male spirit implies that he once was in the military.
He likes to wear work overalls.
He loves women, and shows it by playing with their hair. He likes to stroke long hair, and run his hand over short, spiky hair.
He makes himself seen by the living.
His apparition has been seen watching in the audience during show rehearsals.
Spirit of a young girl in a blue dress
Likes to play peek-a-boo
Likes to run around the auditorium – Makes herself seen.
Spirit of Hank Williams
Apparently, likes to visit the place where he gained his confidence in his own musical ability and his own music.
On occasion, his apparition is seen by staff and tour guides.
Sounds of a woman moaning and weeping in the basement bathroom.
Other disembodied voices are heard in this area.
Yes indeed! Apparently both the living and spirits still enjoy themselves here, with the exception of the spirit in the basement.
Hard evidence has been caught on camera and EVPs by paranormal investigations groups, including the more famous well known groups such as SyFy’s Ghost Hunters and Discovery Channel’s Ghost Lab.
Shreveport Municipal Auditorium
705 Elvis Presley Avenue (formerly Grand Avenue),
Shreveport, LA 71101
The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium is located on Elvis Presley Avenue between Milam Street and Sprague Street. It is directly west of The Oakland Cemetery that sits on Sprague Street. The James Burton Recording Studio is the neighbor of The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium.
- Read More: Shreveport-Bossier’s 10 Most Haunted Places | shreveport-bossiers-10-most-haunted-places
- Historic Shreveport – www.amazon.com/Historic-Haunts-Shreveport-Haunted-America
- Historic Haunts of Shreveport (Haunted Americ… (Paperback)
by Gary D. Joiner PhD, Cheryl H. White PhD
- ghosts – www.shreveportmunicipalauditorium.com
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr