Built in 1927 as Loew’s Penn Theatre, renovated and renamed Heinz Hall in 1971. This 2,661-seat venue is home to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Who knew Pittsburgh even had a symphony orchestra?
Like so many other things in Pittsburgh (ketchup, stadiums, history centers, chapels, schools, hospitals, etc), this performing arts center carries the name "Heinz." The Heinz family got its massive wealth from their Pittsburgh-based ketchup and condiment business, and its many generations of successors have been generous with the family's money, starting endowments, and donating huge sums to keep Pittsburgh great.
When my husband and I lived in the Pittsburgh area, we loved going to Heinz Hall to hear the Pittsburgh Symphony. Attending a concert at Heinz Hall was something memorable--the superb performances, intricate embellishments, gold accents and ornate decor all helped create something magical!
A thumbnail sketch: Heinz Hall, as we know it today was completed in 1971. It had a prior life as a hotel in the mid-1800's and as an opulent movie house known as the Loew's Penn Theatre in the 1900's. Penn Theatre closed its doors in 1964 and remained vacant for five years.
The building had originally been very elaborate, so in three years time the 24 karat gold leaf detailing and crystal chandeliers were brought to life again. Marble touches along with rich velvet once again impressed all who entered the Hall. A five story rear wing added additional space to the stage, dressing rooms, music library and rehearsal room.
A Garden Plaza with moving water sculpture came in 1982. Bars and Lounges were added to the first and second floors, along with dining and meeting rooms.
Public areas in the lower levels were refurbished in 1988 to be used as further dining and reception facilities.
In 1987, the 90th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Symphony was observed.
Heinz Hall's 20th anniversary was marked in 1991, as Pennsylvania was mourning the premature death of Senator John Heinz III in a plane crash. A celebration honoring the lives of Henry J. Heinz II and his son, Senator John Heinz III was held. The auditorium of Heinz Hall was named in the Senator's honor at that time.
A four month renovation was done in 1995 and many further improvements were made to the seats, heating and air conditioning, acoustics and other enhancements. Heinz Hall is considered a world-class concert hall seating 2,661.