UC readers share their memories of Wilson Auditorium
Paul Newman and a missing wallet
I fondly remember Wilson Auditorium. Some of my classes in the auditorium consisted of geology and psychology.
I will always remember the day that Paul Newman appeared at the auditorium in support of U.S. presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy. I made sure I got a front-row seat.
I also remember sitting in those theater seats while I relaxed and listened to a lecture during the afternoon of one of my classes. After returning home, I realized that my wallet was missing.
I got in the car and hurried back to the auditorium. Frantically, I raced to the area where I had been sitting — and lo and behold, there was my wallet stuck in the corner of the seat.
They’re just memories now, but all good ones. We will miss that wonderful Wilson.
Thanks for the great memories from the young man who was only a freshman at the time. [See original story.]
Gary Seitz, A&S ’70
Ronstadt cultivated 'baby' Eagles
I saw Linda Ronstadt in concert at Wilson. I think it was in March 1972. The interesting thing was that her backup band consisted of several future members of the Eagles. My guess is that Glenn Frey and Don Henley were there — maybe with J.D. Souther.
Pete Kaufman, A&S ’72
Editor’s note: Our records show that she played in Wilson on Aug. 12, 1973, the year that her album “Don’t Cry Now” hit No. 5 on the US Billboard’s top 100 albums. That doesn't mean she wasn't here the year before, too; we just can any records of it.
Painting scenic backgrounds
I was so sorry to hear Wilson Hall is gone. It is where I used to paint scenic drops for plays on the Showboat Majestic when Paul Rutledge [former theater professor] managed it. I even got my first art reviews in the Cincinnati Enquirer, even though I had not yet graduated in Fine Arts. It was so much fun for me. I truly enjoyed those days. Thanks for the memories.
Cassandra Domer, DAAP ’80
- Read an article about Cassandra, who progressed from painting scenic drops to being a muralist.
- Watch a video about one of her murals.
- Professor Rutledge died in 2010. See his obituary.
My best memory of Wilson Auditorium was the Harry Chapin concert. After the concert, my girlfriend and I went to the area where you could meet Harry Chapin and buy his music and books. I bought a book, looked up and saw Harry in a lip-lock with my girlfriend! He looked over, saw my expression and said, "Everything cool?" and then he shook my hand. I wasn't too amused but my girlfriend was.
Robert Douglas Buchy, Bus ’82
Liberace candle for professor
There was nothing better than the Thursday 3:30 Music Appreciation class held by Dr. Simon Anderson. All of the broadcasting majors would sit in the front row, bring a table-wine and cheese, then just sit back and be entertained. He thought it was hysterical the day we brought him his Liberace candle. I learned so much from Dr. Anderson.
Oh, the memories we have of WFIB Concerts there are unreal. Elvis Costello was young and raw and real. The memories of Wilson will now have to live in our hearts.
Debi Greiman Trauth, CCM ’79, Eve ’88
Editor’s note: WFIB was a commercial radio station that was part of the Radio, Television and Theatre Crafts Department.
Glenn Gould in person
My favorite memory is having seen and heard Glenn Gould in person in 1957, playing Bach's Goldberg Variations. I still have the program with his autograph on it.
Charles Leslie Crawford, Eng ’61
Editor's note: Gould, one of the most most celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century, was particularly famous for playing Bach. You can watch a fascinating YouTube video of him playing Bach's Goldberg Variations in 1981.
So sorry to hear that Wilson was laid to rest. Besides several large classes that I had there during my freshman year, I saw my first UC concert in the auditorium — Stiller and Meara, followed by Dionne Warwick. What a great show in 1967. [Warwick also played the Student Union in 1965.]
A few years later, I was backstage with a group of friends watching the Byrds. Great memories that will never fade regardless of what takes Wilson's place.
Andrew Radmin, A&S ’72
West Orange, N.J.
Editor's note: I saw Stiller and Meara on campus in 1987 when their son Ben Stiller was at UC filming scenes for the movie “Fresh Horses.” The proud parents were watching their son at work. During the “cafeteria scene,” I went up to tell them both how much I had always enjoyed their comedy sketches, and I asked for their autographs.
They signed their names, followed by the words “Ben’s parents.” Then Jerry cheerfully asked if I’d like to have Ben’s autograph, too. “Sure,” I said, somewhat surprised. So Jerry trotted up to his son and got it for me. They were very nice and down-to-earth folks.
As for the Byrds being on campus, UC photographer Jay Yocis remembers the concert very well. Read his story below.
— Deb Rieselman
Precisely on Tuesday, March 18, 1969, Jay Yocis was driving to Mount Lookout to pick up his friend and fellow UC student Ed Stober to attend a free Byrds concert in Wilson Auditorium. The date is seared into Stober's mind (and yes, we did verify it as correct).
Yocis is equally adamant in recalling that no posters on campus or newspaper copy had advertised the freebie. He simply heard it on WEBN FM radio station in the car.
Neither Yocis or Stober debated for even one second whether to go. And both of them expected that response out of the other.
Although the band had recently gone through some transition in band members at the time, Yocis clearly remembers that original band member Roger McGuinn was still doing vocals and playing guitar, banjo and Moog synthesizer for the group. Equally exciting was the fact that Clarence White had just joined the band a few months earlier on guitar, mandolin and vocals.
Watching the two play together was an unforgettable moment, says Yocis, Univ. ’71 & ’91. But the excitement did not end when the music did, he adds.
“After the show, we went up on stage to talk to the guys. I didn’t know anything about music, but Ed was in a band and really wanted to talk to them.
"All of a sudden, we start helping them load equipment onto a truck. They were just a simple band in those days with no roadies or anybody to help.
“Then it all ended in silence when one of them said, ‘We could use a couple of roadies. Do you want to come along?’
“To this day, I think Ed still regrets that we said no.”
Note: Jay Yocis is technical production manager for UC Photographic Services and the photographer who contributed photos for the Wilson story. Ed Stober, A&S ’72, is a retired history teacher from Walnut Hills High School.
I was chief of the UC Police when, as the Vietnam War was winding down, Gen. William Westmoreland came to Wilson Auditorium to speak to a Boy Scouts Eagle Scout recognition event. Needless to say, we spent the day with a significant demonstration around the auditorium.
When we diverted the demonstrators’ attention to the loading dock with a cordon of Cincinnati Police and rushed the General out the circular front drive, the demonstration turned into a riot that ran across campus to the ROTC Building. Several windows were broken, and a few officers were slightly injured. Thankfully, the Scouts and their families were able to exit peacefully while we dealt with the rioters on the other side of Campus.
Ed Bridgeman, Ed ’76, M (A&S) '83
Editor’s note: According to the Piqua Daily Call newspaper, which reported on the Feb. 21, 1971, event: “Three persons were arrested as a result of the demonstration in which Westmoreland's car was pelted with rocks and the university's ROTC building was damaged. No one was hurt.”
CCM's Mummers Guild
No one has mentioned that pre-CCM, the theater at UC was all in a student group, The Mummers Guild. My brother Morton was president in pre-WWII, and I was active and president in '46 and '47. Wilson Auditorium was our home, and we produced two or three plays a year there.
The Mummers Guild was an extracurricular activity, but our productions were well done and well received. There also was an annual musical called "The Varsity Vanities" produced separately.
Backstage at a tryout, a young lady informed me she was going to marry me. Her name was Catherine D. Stewart, and we have been married for more than 65 glorious years.
Reuven Katz, A&S '88
I remember Dr. George Kisker, as well as Intro and Abnormal Psychology lectures, in Wilson Auditorium, if I am correct. I remember him doing a hypnosis demo on the entire group of roughly 200 to 300 of us in that auditorium. I haven't been back at UC since 1972. I wish I could see campus now.
Beth Rosenberg Kauffman, Ed ’72
Wilson Auditorium was an interesting place to take a music-appreciation class, but the most memorable events were the two presentations by James Mapes when I saw firsthand the way hypnotism works on those susceptible to it. Grown men remembered their 5th birthdays, sounding like 5-year-olds again, and when given the signal, people blamed their suddenly hot seats on the friends and strangers seated next to them.
Cydny Hofmann Holt, Bus ’80
Best live jazz ever experienced
Wilson Auditorium always will have a musical theme for me -- Professor Charles "Chuck" Berry for an intro class in economics and some of the best live jazz I've experienced. The late, great Rahsaan Roland Kirk played Wilson Auditorium in 1974 or 1975 and put on one of the most entertaining and amazing concerts I've attended. The Bill Watrous and the Manhattan Wildlife Refuge concert, also in '74 or '75, was nearly as good.
James R. Neidhard, Bus '76, MBA '78
North Bend, Ohio
I saw Frank Zappa in concert at Wilson in the ’70s I believe. Frank was a very serious musician, even stopping the show during a song to tell some loud-mouths to shut up. There was great sound in that place!
Editor’s note: One of Zappa’s first drummers was Art Tripp, a CCM student who ended up working with avant-garde composer John Cage when he was in residence at CCM. Check out the related links and videos below. One clip is from one of Zappa's UC concerts, but he played at UC enough times that we are not sure this is the same concert Gorman attended.
- Hear a clip from a 1973 concert at UC by Frank Zappa & Mothers Of Invention.
- Watch a 1968 video that features drummer Art Tripp playing with Zappa.
- Read more about Tripp and see a photo of him at the drums during his Zappa era.
Couple met there
What a terrific collection of photos and stories about Wilson. Very well done! My wife, Gale, and I met there. I think many students from the ’70s had those mass lecture classes in there, so thousands beyond those in the drama program experienced the building. A great feature, as always.
Mark Jorgensen, CCM ’78, MA (A&S) ’96
Where did the seats go?
Great article on the demo of Wilson Auditorium. I spent lots of time there. What happened to the seats? Were they sold? Are they going to be sold?
Terry Kessler, Eng '69
Editor’s note: The seats continually deteriorated when the auditorium went unused for nearly 30 years. In the interim, the west campus’ large lecture classes met in Zimmer Auditorium, movies were shown in the Tangeman University Center theater, dramatic and musical performances used five different venues in the College-Conservatory of Music Village, guest speakers could use any of those locales or TUC’s Great Hall, and crowd-drawing attractions, such as President Barack Obama’s appearance in 2012, were placed in Fifth Third Arena. Once Wilson’s main purpose was supplanted by more-modern venues, neglect and lack of maintenance overtook the building, including water leakage and vandalism.
In addition, each seat was joined to another, meaning seats would have to be cut apart and modified to stand alone. Too expensive to remove, modify and store, the seats were destroyed with the rest of the building.
Professional opinion on reliefs
I enjoyed the photo essay on Wilson Auditorium, the record of memories presented and the images of the reliefs installed around the building, representing the exemplars of the performing arts, notable works of art in themselves. I hope somehow they will be relocated on campus to secure our memories and as models of our future community.
Sculptor and art professor emeritus
College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning
Overwhelmed and shocked
I remember in 1969 attending Biology 101 in Wilson Auditorium. The building was full, and I was overwhelmed at the number of students. Coming from a high school with 30 in a classroom, I was shocked. The professor used an overhead projector to teach the class.
Frank Baldwin, Phar ’77
One of 400 in the auditorium
Along with about 400 other freshmen in 1967, I took Psych 101 in Wilson Auditorium.
Deborah Lipsich-Lieberman, CCM ’71
Character development at Wilson
Wilson Auditorium is where a lot of my character development took place. As a freshman majoring in English and theater arts in 1954, I had a very minor character role in the play “Stalag 17.” When I auditioned for the role, it required that the character smoke in the scene. Having never smoked in my life, I began coughing profusely and could not stop.
Dr. Paul Rutledge, who was directing the play and director of the Theatre Arts Department at the time, was convinced that my coughing was outstanding and perfect for the part. I got the role, but I never told Paul that I was not a smoker.
Several months later, in February 1956, I was drafted into the U.S. Army even though I had enrolled into ROTC to avoid being drafted. Back then, we were all subject to the draft.
Many years later in 1975, I returned to UC, resumed taking classes in theater arts (held at Wilson Auditorium) and English, then finally graduated in 1978. Professor Jean Luis Baldet was my principal instructor during this time. Because of the excellent education and training I received at Wilson, I went on to direct many community theatre plays — and even one play, “Open 24 Hours,” held at the Playhouse in the Park, which was sponsored by Cincinnati Community Theatres Organizations.
In viewing the photos of the demolition of Wilson, I was surprised that I couldn't recall the inside entrance (foyer) to the building. I finally remembered that as a student, I never entered the building from the front, only through the side entrance.
I began working at WCPO-TV as a cinematographer in 1975, retired in 1997 and moved to New Orleans, where I currently live with my wonderful wife, JoAnn.
Joe Perdue, A&S ’78
LINK: Professor Rutledge died in 2010. See his obituary.
Singing on Wilson's stage
When I heard of the Wilson Auditorium demolition, I immediately reminisced about my high school days. Even though I attended Walnut Hills High School, one of my sisters attended Hughes High School across the street.
She, her friends and I performed in Wilson Auditorium in a Hughes' "Merry-Go-Round Talent Show" in the late 1960s or early ‘70s. Our group was called Three Plus Soul, and we sang Sly and the Family Stone's "You Can Make It If You Try" and Three Dog Night's "It's For You." Fun times!
Academic Excellence and Support Services
UC Veterans Programs and Services
LINK: No video of Reed, but here's a video of Three Dog Night performing "It's For You" in 1970.
Raggedy name, not performance
I was in the Glee Club and can remember a concert we gave in Wilson. I was part of an "a cappella" group, the Raggedy Anns.
Mary Lewis Karol, A&S ’74
Mount Sinai, N.Y.
Who is Wilson?
I read all the memory stories about Wilson Auditorium, moving stories. However, I left with one unanswered question: What is the story behind the name "Wilson" and the reasons the building was named for Wilson? I think UC should have talked about that.
Bin Yuan, A&S '87
Editor's note: Yes, you are right about that. We should have talked about that. So now we have. Please see the new article here.