History of McMahon AuditoriumAfter the death of Eugene McMahon, his mother, Louise D. McMahon wished to build a fitting memorial for her only son. With the support of The McMahon Foundation, this dream became a reality, the McMahon Memorial Auditorium. The auditorium is located in Elmer Thomas Park.
Mrs. McMahon was involved in every aspect of the project. She personally selected the colors and mosaic in the lobby of the building. Mrs. McMahon personally contributed the furnishings and stage setting. She was a musician and taught piano for many years. It was important to her that the acoustics would be excellent, they are. When the National Symphony played in the McMahon Auditorium, Leonard Slatkin said it was a pleasure to play in a facility with such outstanding acoustics.
In January 1953, Paul Harris, a Lawton architect was engaged to draw plans for the building. Structural design was by Mendal Glickman, professor or architecture at the University of Oklahoma. The McMahon Foundation Board accepted the plans and contracted with the J. J. Bollinger Construction Company of Oklahoma City.
The auditorium is designed in a ‘wedge shape’ with the narrow part toward the stage. It has a seating capacity of 1,522. It is designed in a radius to that all seats have a full view of the stage. The proscenium opening is 40 feet wide and 28 feet in height. The stage depth from curtain to back wall is 40 feet, the width is 60 feet and the height to grid is 66 feet. The orchestra pit seats 40 musicians.
At the time of the formal dedication in 1956, the McMahon Foundation presented the building to the City of Lawton. It was dedicated to the use of the citizens of the Lawton community for the advancement of music, the arts and other forms of educational and cultural endeavors. The auditorium has certainly met those goals.
The McMahon Foundation purchased a Steinway Concert Grand Piano for the auditorium. In 2002 the interior of the piano was refurbished by a Steinway certified technician and has been returned to excellent voice and quality. The exterior finish was also restored. It is a very high quality instrument and will remain so for years to come.
In 1990, the McMahon Foundation funded a renovation and expansion of the facility. At that time a Green Room was added, dressing rooms were renovated, a storage area was added at the rear of the auditorium and office space was added to the Westside of the building. A new state on the arts sound system was installed, the restrooms in the balcony area were enlarged and a box office was added in the central area of the front office. New landscaping has been added.
A second renovation took place in 2001. The lobby of the auditorium was expanded and serving areas with black granite counter tops and beveled mirrors were added to each side. Also, the lower lobby restrooms were added and enlarged. The addition has enabled the lobby to be used effectively for receptions and art exhibits. New landscaping has added.
Each expansion and renovation has purposefully retained the integrity of the original design. It remains a stately, beautiful and functional facility. Performances range from local dance studio productions to touring shows. Comedy shows to drama all take place at McMahon Memorial Auditorium. The Lawton Fort Sill Community and her citizens are truly fortunate to have such an outstanding performance hall.