On March 31, 1940, the City of Little Rock and the Auditorium Commission threw open the doors of Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium to the public for an open house.
The building had officially opened in February 1940 (after construction was completed in January), and events had been taking place in the lower level since October 1939. But this was the first time that the public could tour the entire facility from top to bottom.
The event took place on a Sunday from 1pm to 9pm. Curiously, it took place two days before a special election to approve the bonds to finish the auditorium. Though no one at the time was cynical enough to comment on the connection.
Members of various Little Rock Boy Scout troops led 4,000 visitors on tours of the auditorium. Visitors were shown all over the building; one scout calculated that the walking tour equated to two miles. Though most people were from Little Rock, the guest registry indicated visitors from California and Pennsylvania. Among the last guests to sign the register were Mayor J. V. Satterfield and his family.
The idea for the open house had first been floated in December by Alderman E. W. Gibb after taking a tour of the construction site. He had enthusiastically professed that everyone should be able to tour and see what a magnificent structure it was going to be. Mayor Satterfield had to tamper the alderman’s enthusiasm. He agreed with Mr. Gibb that it was a fine building but stated that a public open house could not be scheduled for a few weeks because there was still much work to be done. Mayor Satterfield noted that the seats in the music hall were going to have to be removed and then reinstalled because they needed to be anchored better.