UI community celebrates 100th year since Foellinger Auditorium was built

The Other Guys perform The Morrow Plots Song on the stage of Foellinger Auditorium on Saturday in a concert to honor the Centennial Celebration of the building. Laura Prusik

The Other Guys perform “The Morrow Plots Song” on the stage of Foellinger Auditorium on Saturday in a concert to honor the Centennial Celebration of the building. Laura Prusik

By Angelina Cole

The University community commemorated the 100th birthday of Foellinger Auditorium Saturday night.

The event featured speaker Walker Johnson, who worked on the restoration of the building in 1985, The Other Guys choral group and the University Symphony Orchestra. Jane Rader, alumna and University of Illinois Foundation Board member, also spoke and shared the history of the auditorium and her memories of the building.

“I can’t remember the last time I came up these steps,” Rader said. “But I do remember the first.”

In 1950 when Rader was a student at the University, she was asked to appear at Foellinger Auditorium to take a picture with all the high school valedictorians attending the University.

“I never saw the picture, but the purpose was knowing where the building was,” Rader said. “And I came up these steps many times after that.”

The building has hosted countless speakers, performances and undergone several renovations throughout the century.

“The original design called for teaching wings on both sides of the dome and a state house,” Johnson said. “However, the legislation board failed to make half of the funds.” The wings, a small staircase in the front of the building, and sheet metal covering for the dome were cut from the plans.

The building later became a focal point of the campus for performances and student activities, keeping Foellinger Auditorium a fundamental part of campus life to present day.

“It was a free concert and a beautiful night so we had to come out and enjoy it,” said Mary Lynn Fletcher, a community member in attendance.