Construction on the Auditorium began in 1966,
and the total cost was $4,500,000, based entirely on gifts and grants from
alumni, students, faculty, and other friends of the university.
The seating capacity is as follows (total:
Main floor: 1618
First balcony: 457
Second balcony: 352
Third balcony: 210
The immense Japanese-made stage curtain was
the gift of J.W. Fisher of Marshalltown, Iowa. It is 80 feet wide by
30 feet high. In 2004, C.Y. Stephens Auditorium was
named "Building of the Century," by the American Institute of Architects,
Iowa Chapter. The buildings were judged on their original criteria and
societal and social impact.
Who was C.Y. Stephens?:
Clifford Y. Stephens, originally from
Cherokee County, Georgia, graduated from Iowa State College (University) in
1925 with a degree in Dairy Science. His first job was as manager of
the Farmers Co-Operative Milk Plant in Marshalltown, Iowa. He founded
High's Dairy Product Corporation in 1933 in the District of Columbia area,
and later pioneered jug milk distribution in Washington and Baltimore.
Stephens established a scholarship foundation
at Iowa State, and also chaired the university's national campaign for the
construction of a cultural and educational center (the Iowa State Center).
He also pledged to donate $1 million to the center, and fulfilled this pledge by donating his High's Dairy corporation stock to Iowa State. As stated on a
plaque in the auditorium, Stephens said, "I would have liked to write a fine
poem or a great book, or possibly made a worthy discovery in science, but
since all these accomplishments have been denied me, I shall use my ability
to accumulate money in such a manner as to make it possible to train many
others to do the things I would have done."
Of Iowa State itself, he said "I love the
place. It gave me what I needed to get through life. My gift is
repayment for what Iowa State did for me." C.Y. Stephens married Mary
Anne Marsh (Class of 1928) in 1931, and they had seven children. He was
killed in an automobile accident in 1963.