History of McMahon AuditoriumWhen Eugene McMahon passed away, in July of 1945, his mother, Louise D. McMahon wanted a fitting memorial for her only son. With the support of The McMahon Foundation this dream became a reality with McMahon Memorial Auditorium. The auditorium is located in Elmer Thomas Park.
Mrs. McMahon was involved in every aspect of the project including reviewing the acoustical design as well as selecting the lobby's colors and tile work. The furnishings and stage setting were a personal gift by Mrs. McMahon.
Lawton architect, Paul Harris was engaged in 1953 to plan the building. Structural design was by OU Professor of Architecture, Mendal Glickman. The McMahon Foundation Board accepted the plans and contracted J. J. Bollinger Construction Company of Oklahoma City to build the auditorium.
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 so 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.
On Friday, March 11, 1955 Louise D. McMahon, co-founder of the McMahon Foundation, dedicated the McMahon Memorial Auditorium 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.
"In an increasing appreciation of those arts that elevate the
spirit of man, I dedicate this building to the service of the
people of Lawton."
--Louise D. McMahon
Because of this generous gift generations of Lawtonians have experienced and enjoyed the performing arts from ballets, Broadway shows, concerts to performances by many local organizations. Not only has this state of the art facility enriched our cultural community but also its economic contribution to Lawton has been extremely significant over the years.
During the evening of the dedication ceremony of the auditorium, Mrs. McMahon also presented a Steinway Concert Grand Piano as part of the auditorium furnishings. In dedicating the piano, Mrs. McMahon, an accomplished pianist, then played "Moonlight Sonata", by Beethoven for the audience. 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.
A public trust known as "The McMahon Auditorium Authority" was created in 1963. The purpose of the Authority is to oversee the operation and management of the auditorium so that it is utilized to the maximum extent. The Authority consists of nine members who are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the city council.
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 west side of the building (Arts & Humanities Division Office). A new state of the art 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 lobby. New landscaping was added.
A second renovation took place in 2001. The lobby of the auditorium was expanded to include serving areas and enlarged restrooms. New landscaping was added. In 2004 the McMahon Foundation presented the Auditorium Authority with a grant for additional interior updates to include enhancements to the Arts & Humanities Offices, balcony area restrooms, Green Room and its restroom and dressing rooms. The sound system was also upgraded and auditorium seats are continuously being re-upholstered.
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 citizens of the Lawton Fort Sill Community are truly fortunate to have such an outstanding performance hall.