Interior of Auditorium
Click the above image for a larger view
Wisconsin Historical Society Image ID: WHi 75613
The above image is a picture of the interior of an auditorium that was located in Monteagle, Tennessee. This auditorium was almost identical in design as the one that once existed in Olin Park. This image gives you an idea of how the interior of the Olin Park structure may have looked.

There are no known images of the inside of the Olin Park auditorium, however, the two links below will take you to the Wisconsin Historical Society website to view images of the exterior of the Olin Park auditorium.

Monona Lake Assembly Auditorium 1910ca, WHi-87595

Also, there is a high resolution image of Olin Park with the Olin Auditorium in the image at this South Madison History website on Flickr.
The Olin Park auditorium was constructed in 1895 for the Monona Lake Assembly and was one of the first large structures built by J. H. Findorff. This 160 foot diameter circular auditorium had a 5000 seat capacity and replaced an earlier 3000 seat open pavilion that existed at the same location. The design of the auditorium was unique for a building of its size at the time in that the entire roof was supported by the outside walls. Thus, there were no internal columns that would have blocked view of the stage area. The auditorium had many large garage door type doors that surrounded most of the perimeter of the structure. These doors were probably mounted with counter weights and opened by lifting them straight up much like an old double hung window. This allowed light and fresh air into the structure when lectures were held but retained the capability to close up the structure in inclement weather and over the winter months.

In 1911 the City of Madison purchased the grounds of the Monona Lake Assembly to become Madison's first city park that was purchased with taxpayer money. The auditorium continued to be used as a summer convention and meeting center and was also used for Sunday concerts and sermons in the warmer months. From about 1924 to 1933 the building was also used as an arena for numerous boxing matches. Boxing was a popular event during this time period. The auditorium could only be used during the warmer months of the year as there was no way to heat it. It was condemned for public use in about 1933 due to deteriorating structural components. The building was then used for equipment storage until it was dismantled in 1943. The wood and metal components of the structure were salvaged for reuse.

Aerial view of Olin Park with the auditorium location circled

If you go to the park, look for the large circular level area that was cut into the glacial hill just to the northwest of the park restrooms building. This is where the auditorium once stood.



Note: Historical data for this document was obtained from the internet and from the following sources:

"Reuben Gold Thwaites Papers, 1843 - 1960" located in the Archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

"Madison A History of the Formative Years" by David V. Mollenhoff

"Madison: The Illustrated Sesquicentennial History, Volume 1" by Stuart D. Levitan