History of Ardrey Memorial Auditorium
Named for Eldon Ardrey, long-time member of the NAU community
With comfortable seating for 1350, excellent acoustics, great sight lines, and a spacious, beautifully decorated lobby with a gallery wall of fine art, the Ardrey Memorial Auditorium is a grand venue the likes of which cannot be found anywhere else in Northern Arizona.
Throughout his long and remarkable career at Northern Arizona University, Dr. Eldon Ardrey served as the Chair of Music, the Director of the Liberal Arts Division, and then Dean of the College of Creative Arts. Originally from Kansas, Dr. Eldon Ardrey first came to NAU in 1931 and served over four decades at the university in various positions. During his career, Dr. Ardrey accomplished many firsts, a number of which involved the local community in addition to groundbreaking changes at the university. In the community, Ardrey co-founded the Flagstaff Festival of Arts and Northern Arizona University Summer Music Camp. Additionally, Dr. Ardrey served on the Arizona State Commission for the Arts from 1967-1970.
More information on Eldon Ardrey
Eldon Ardrey was born on May 24, 1905 at Safford County, KS. His early schooling occurred in rural Kansas, followed by a B.A. degree from the University of Kansas in 1928. Ardrey earned the M.S. degree from Yankton College (closed in 1984) in South Dakota in 1931, where he taught strings and musical theory. He later obtained his doctorate in education from the University of Colorado (at Boulder) in 1959. He first came to Flagstaff and the state college in the summer of 1929 for a musical activity. He and his wife returned in 1931 when Grady Gammage, then the school president, asked him to serve as Chair of Music. Eldon and Ruth Ardrey lived in Flagstaff for the remainder of their lives, including 41 years Eldon Ardrey served on the faculty. During those four decades, the Music Department moved from the basement of Old Main to portions of the Ashurst Building, which became Ashurst Music Hall and had practice rooms, studios, several classrooms, and offices in addition to the renovated main hall. Near the end of his life, Ardrey witnessed the transition the Music Department to the then Creative and Communication Arts Building.
During his long tenure with the school, Eldon Ardrey accomplished many things, a number of which involved the local community and the university. He founded the Shrine of Ages Choir in 1932, directed it for 25 years, and provided the first Easter Sunday Sunrise Services at the Grand Canyon in 1935. The annual event was broadcasted live on a national radio network for many decades. Ardrey organized the first Arizona All-State Orchestra in 1939, continued to conduct in the ensuing decades, and thus insured a program that continues today. He was a co-founder of the Flagstaff Festival of the Arts, which used a variety of venues for music, art exhibits, dance, and theatre performances, including in the later years, what is now Ardrey Auditorium. Ardrey served on the Arizona State Commission for the Arts from 1967-1970. He also co-founded the Northern Arizona University Summer Music Camp.
Eldon Ardrey became Director of the Liberal Arts Division in 1958 and then Dean of the College of Creative Arts in 1966. Eldon and Ruth Ardrey were the joint Homecoming Dedicatees for 1957. His son, Roger, a baritone vocalist, joined the music faculty at NAU for six years. Mrs. Ruth Ardrey served in many capacities, including being the organist for the Federated Church for 35 years and as a longtime member of the Symphony Guild. Eldon Ardrey died in Flagstaff on March 6, 1969.