The Gaillard, Then and Now.
John Palmer Gaillard Jr.
J. Palmer Gaillard (pronounced GILL-YARD) Jr. was Mayor of the City of Charleston from 1959 until 1975, when he was appointed U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Reserve Affairs. Gaillard was renowned for his integrity and fiscal responsibility. Among the accomplishments of his administration were:
- The annexation of portions of the West Ashley area to double the size of the city.
- The building of a new sewage collection & disposal system that restored the harbor ad a haven for marine life.
- The construction of a new marina.
- The construction of the Gaillard Municipal Auditorium.
Gaillard Municipal Auditorium
The Gaillard Municipal Auditorium and Exhibition Hall opened in July of 1968. For over 40 years, it served as Charleston’s star venue for thousands of memorable performances and civic events. When it first opened, the contemporary Gaillard Auditorium was a symbol of ambition for Charleston’s economic prosperity, cultural growth, status, and civic pride. With its 2,750-seat music hall and its large multipurpose exhibition hall, the Gaillard became Charleston’s largest performing arts venue. The Gaillard became home to the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in the early 1980s, and with the founding of Spoleto Festival USA in 1977, it helped propel Charleston onto the world stage.
The New Gaillard Center
Construction of the new Charleston Gaillard Center began in August of 2012 and was finished in October of 2015. The new Gaillard Center features the 1,800-seat Martha and John M. Rivers Performance Hall, a 15,000-square foot Exhibition Hall, and three floors of City offices. Financing the $142 million project was shared equally between the City of Charleston and private donors. The Gaillard Performance Hall Foundation’s capital campaign was instrumental in raising funds for the construction of the building. An essential collaboration with the Schwarz architectural team includes acousticians Akustiks, LLC and theater consultants Fisher Dachs Associates, Inc.
Martha and John M. Rivers Performance Hall
The Charleston Gaillard Center’s elegantly conceived and expanded exhibition and banquet space makes downtown Charleston a superb destination for businesses and corporations, festivals and trade shows, and a host of private events and celebrations.
The Charleston Gaillard Center Exhibition space offers over 22,000-square-feet of beautiful ballrooms, terraced lawn, pre-function and salon spaces distributed around a two-story grand lobby. This space is suitable for weddings, banquets, conventions, trade shows, musical events, arts shows, board meetings and festivals. It is easily divisible and adaptable to the needs of the occasion.
In addition to being Charleston’s cultural home, Gaillard Center is also home to municipal offices where citizens doing business with the city will have convenient and ready access. A kiosk-style permit center that includes building and construction, development, business permitting, revenue collections, planning, zoning, and building inspection permits, is located next to the parking garage.