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 and 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.