Arkansas Heritage Month – LR Mayor Moyer and a Municipal Auditorium

Moyer AuditIn anticipation of the November 2016 reopening of Robinson Center Music Hall, this week’s Arkansas Heritage Month entries look at seven Little Rock Mayors who worked on proposals for a municipal auditorium between 1904 and 1940.

After having served as Pulaski County Judge, Charles Moyer was elected Little Rock Mayor in April 1925.  He concluded his inaugural address later that month with a request that all Little Rock voters should support the auditorium district proposal in the May 1925 special election.  Voters approved the auditorium, but the concept of an auditorium district was thrown out by the Arkansas Supreme Court after a legal challenge.

Mayor Moyer then led a statewide effort to get a Constitutional amendment approved to allow for public bonds to be used on auditoriums and a host of other structures, as long as voters approved the issuance of bonds.  This was approved by voters in October 1926.  Though Mayor Moyer publicly advocated for an auditorium after that election, he did not lead a subsequent effort to create one.  During his tenure, conventions were largely centered around the Hotel Marion.  A new Little Rock High School was built (now Little Rock Central High) with that auditorium supplanting its predecessor as the location of choice for large-scale performances.

He left office in April 1929.  In the final weeks of Mayor Moyer’s second term, Planning Commission Chair J. N. Heiskell (editor of the Arkansas Gazette) started discussing the need for a civic center for Little Rock which would include space for a municipal auditorium.

Charles Moyer returned to the office of mayor for an additional two terms in the 1940s. By that time Robinson Auditorium had been opened.