Before his death in 1956, it was Jones’ expressed wish to see that Houston had a new opera house. Jones Hall would become his lasting gift to the City. Jones Hall was built on the same location as its predecessor, the old City Auditorium, which was demolished in the summer of 1963. Construction of the new facility began in January 1964. The entire $7.4 million construction tab was paid for by Houston Endowment Inc., a foundation established by the building’s namesake. Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts was accepted as a gift to the City in civic ceremonies on October 2, 1966.
Brilliant planning by the building architects offers unparalleled versatility, enabling Jones Hall to accommodate several art forms. Overhead, 800 hexagons create a moveable marvel that can be raised or lowered to regroup volumes, alter the physical circumstances of a room, and manipulate acoustics. The auditorium can literally to shrink from 2,911 seats to 2,300. The ambience of the hall is enhanced with its vibrant red velvet seating, golden teak walls and a sweeping loge that seems to reach for the stage.
Upon entering the building, visitors will notice the "Gemini II" sculpture hovering just below the lobby ceiling. Commissioned by the Houston Endowment, Gemini II resembles shooting stars as it pays homage to the hall’s performers and acknowledges Houston’s role in space exploration.
Outside, Jones Hall is just as beautiful , with its curving marble walls and a rectangle of columns. In 1967, Jones Hall won the American Institute of Architects’ Honor Award, a national award bestowed on only one building annually. Caudill Rowlett Scott was the architectural firm.
Today, Jones Hall is home to Houston Symphony and the Society for the Performing Arts. More than 400,000 visitors attend some 250 events annually.
Jones Hall is managed by the City of Houston’s Convention & Entertainment Facilities Department, Dawn Ullrich, director, and Vivian Montejano, building manager.