The History of Peace Memorial Auditorium

In 1946, the citizens of Manhattan approved a bond to construct a “living” memorial auditorium to honor the 2,610 Riley Countians who had served and the 101 servicemen who lost their lives in the war. The national trend at the time was to construct a memorial that would have a use and serve the community, i.e. a “living” memorial. The memorial auditorium was completed and dedicated in 1955, which was Manhattan’s centennial year. Early settlers were added to the dedication. City offices, fire station, police department, municipal court and jail were later additions to the original project.

In 2012, Manhattan’s City Commission began discussing how to provide the Parks and Recreation Department with improved office space, eventually settling on a plan that would have placed the department within Peace Memorial Auditorium, removed the vintage fixed seating, and also removed the performance stage and replaced it with practice-sized basketball courts. Missing from these early City Commission discussions was information about Peace Memorial Auditorium’s role as a living memorial. As the years had passed, our community had forgotten. Fortunately, there were a few citizens who remembered and brought to light the strong community-wide effort that had occurred in 1946 when citizens approved an $800,000 bond to construct Peace Memorial Auditorium. Through advocacy efforts, citizens were able to convince the City Commission to change course. Peace Memorial Auditorium has been renovated and a memorial wall was created to ensure that the memorial auditorium would continue to serve the community and to honor the Riley County men and women who served in World War II.

Continue Reading

Closer Look    Gallery