“It is a riot of warm colors, feeling and sounds…Music is in abundance from victrolas, saxophones, player pianos and hurry-up orchestras…It seethes with the pulsating beauty of the lives of its people.”
Those words were attributed in 1927 to Roy Wilkins, the legendary historical figure in America’s climb towards achieving civil rights for all of its citizens. Wilkins was fondly recalling his upbringing in the Rondo neighborhood of Saint Paul. Located near what is now Rice Park in downtown Saint Paul, Rondo Avenue was the predominantly African-American neighborhood that Wilkins always remembered with pride. The lessons he learned there helped shape him into the prominent leader he became.
It is a fitting tribute that the nearby entertainment venue which sits just one block from Rice Park was renamed after Wilkins in 1985. The Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium, like the old memories of Rondo Avenue, is a destination for music-lovers looking to experience a blend of musical genres. It has transformed into an intimate venue suited to attract all types of entertainment tastes.
Built in 1932, The Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium has hosted some of the most recognizable performers and memorable performances in entertainment history. The Grateful Dead, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan are just a few legendary acts whose sounds have graced the walls of the hall.
While big name acts are great and the memories of those events will last forever in the minds of Roy Wilkins patrons, it’s the intimate experience that will have a profound effect on the music and entertainment lovers. With its comfortable and retro feel, the building serves to make downtown Saint Paul an entertainment destination for all different ages and backgrounds. This makes it an ideal setting for rock, hip-hop, jazz, country, comedy and folk audiences.
If Wilkins were still alive today, there is no doubt he would be beaming with pride at the sight of a flourishing Saint Paul. The auditorium named after him will always “keep music in abundance” and “seethe with the pulsating beauty of the lives of its people.”