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Shelandra Y. Ford
Historical Markers of Shelby County

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Church Park Auditorium

Established in 1899 Church's Park and Auditorium was the only such facility in the United States owned entirely by a Black man and conducted in the interests of Black people. Standard admission to the auditorium was 15 cents. Seating capacity was 2200 and Robert Church took a personal hand in management of the facility. Overflow crowds came to see such leading entertainers and politicians as W.C. Handy, the Black Patti Troubadours, and the Whitney Musical Company as well as Dr. Booker T. Washington, President Theodore Roosevelt, and early leaders of the Lincoln Republican League and the NAACP. The gateway overhead is reminiscent of the original entrance facade of the auditorium. The large lawn area to the south is circumscribed by eight columns. Here one may gain a sense of the grand scale and setting of the original auditorium