Newark Symphony Hall
1020 Broad Street,
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Built in 1925 for the Shriners as the Salaam Temple, it was inaugurated on September 8, 1925. The 2,800-seat main auditorium was decorated in Neo-Classical style, mixed with elements of Middle Eastern and Egyptian styles as well. The exterior of the Temple was an austere, soaring facade lined with six two-story tall Ionic columns.
Leased for use as a vaudeville and movie house early on by the Shriners, while they continued to meet in the large 1,000-seat ballroom area above the main auditorium, the Mosque Theater, as the Temple eventually became better known as, was easily one of Newark’s largest and most impressive-looking movie palaces.
In 1938, the auditorium began to be leased by the Griffith Music Foundation, hosting concerts and recitals at the Mosque Theatre, led by Mrs. Parker O. Griffith. Among those to appear on the Mosque Theatre’s stage during the Griffith era included George Gershwin, Vladimir Horowitz and Marian Anderson.
The Mosque Theatre fell into somewhat of a slump during the 1960’s, after the the death of Mrs. Griffith, and for a while, the future of the Mosque Theatre looked questionable. In the mid-1970’s, a concerned group of Newarkers joined forces with the City of Newark to save the theatre from the fate of many of the city’s other movie palaces of the same era. Restoration work was begun slowly to bring the old venue back to its original appearance, as well as create more performance space out of other areas of the former Temple building (including another auditorium seating about 200 as well as a banquet hall/auditorium out of the former ballroom). The former Mosque Theatre’s main auditorium was rechristened the Sarah Vaughan Concert Hall, and the name of the entire complex officially renamed the Newark Symphony Hall.
In addition to symphony concerts, the Newark Symphony Hall today hosts pop concerts, live theater and dance, as well as many other events, and is one of the premier entertainment centers not just in Newark, but in the entire state.
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