Anderson Foundation Makes Major Donation for Memorial Hall Renovation




Teresa Summe-Haas, executive director of Memorial Hall, and Bill Baumann, president of the Memorial Hall Society board of trustees

Photography by Wes Battoclette

The Cincinnati Memorial Hall Society (“CMHS”) has received a pledge of $1 million from the Annie W. & Elizabeth M. Anderson Foundation as a keystone gift for the planned 2015-2016 renovation of the Hamilton County Memorial Hall building. The donation, which will help considerably in closing the funding gap for the renovation, was announced today by Bill Baumann, President of CMHS, and Steve Leeper, President and CEO of the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (“3CDC”). 

The Annie W. & Elizabeth M. Anderson Foundation is a leading Cincinnati foundation focused on the betterment of the city. The Anderson sisters were sixth-generation Cincinnatians, great-great-granddaughters of Nicholas Longworth and Lt. Colonel Richard Clough Anderson and great-nieces of Brevet Major General Nicholas Longworth Anderson. 

“Annie and Elizabeth Anderson were proud of their family’s important role in the history of Cincinnati,” said Mr. Joseph Krabbe, President of the Anderson Foundation. “Therefore, this gift to help modernize and restore Memorial Hall, an historic and architectural treasure in the heart of Cincinnati’s revitalizing art district, is very fitting.”

In recognition of the importance of this significant gift and the prominence of the Anderson and Longworth families in Cincinnati history, Memorial Hall’s beautifully decorative theater will be named the “Annie W. & Elizabeth M. Anderson Theater” and its stage will be named “The Longworth Anderson Stage.”

“This substantial and generous gift has special meaning for two reasons,” Mr. Baumann said in response to receiving the contribution. “First, the Anderson Foundation has been an important supporter and funder of our successful efforts to revitalize Memorial Hall over the past two years; and secondly, Annie and Elizabeth are linked to the building through their great-uncle, Nicholas Longworth Anderson, a Civil War veteran memorialized with an historic, bronze plaque hanging in the main hall of Memorial Hall since shortly after the building was erected in 1908.”

Memorial Hall, which is owned by Hamilton County, was originally built as a memorial to the veterans of the U.S. Civil War and the Spanish-American War. The building flourished during the first half of the 20th Century as a meeting place for veterans, but saw more limited and sporadic use for the next 60 years. In late 2012, CMHS undertook concentrated revitalization efforts, which have resulted in more than 250 performances, events and meetings being held at the venue since that time.

Despite the increased usage, more than 20 years have gone by since the facility last underwent a significant renovation, which was primarily limited to restoration of the decorative elements of the theater, leaving the structure’s systems and amenities outdated and rundown. Recognizing the need to renovate and modernize the building, Hamilton County, 3CDC and CMHS are collaborating to undertake a major $7.8 million renovation of Memorial Hall beginning this summer to better preserve the building and improve audience amenities and production capabilities.

The Anderson Foundation’s considerable donation, combined with the $1.5 million funding commitment from the Hamilton County Commissioners last week and $4.1 million in Ohio and Federal Tax Credit funding previously secured, means that $6.6 million has now been secured. CMHS and 3CDC will soon be launching a private fundraising campaign to raise the remaining $1.2 million needed for the project.